On Christmas day, my family and I went to see True Grit. I was blown away. Through and through, this was a nearly flawless movie. Jeff Bridges gave an Oscar worthy performance as Marshall Rooster Cogburn. He’s crotchety, ornery, and lovable. The Coen Brothers, as writers and producers, came up with a script filled with wit and tension, adventure and spirit, solid characterization and atmosphere. They offer a closer adaptation of Charles Portis’ original novel than the John Wayne adaptation.
Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld truly shines as Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl whose father was just murdered by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin–who got top billing despite being in the movie for about 5 minutes). Mattie, a girl who is effectively in charge of her family’s business, as her mother is fragile, decides to hire Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall with “True Grit”—the right stuff—to go after Chaney. They join up with a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Matt Damon with a righteous moustache that I think had a hard time staying on), who has been chasing down Chaney for months. They pursue Chaney, with Cogburn fighting drunkenness and growing to care for Mattie, almost killing himself to protect and save her.
On thing I really enjoyed was the theme of justice which runs throughout the film, not necessarily revenge, though that is present. I do not want to reveal too much more, but suffice it to say, I absolutely loved it; I’ve been excited for this since I first learned about it, and I have worried that I built it up too much. I did not build it up enough. I loved it throughout. It’s funny, tense, with high stakes, and I cannot wait to see it again. See it, and wait for Jeff Bridges’ Oscar to come in.
On a side note, I recently watched the 1969 True Grit film starring John Wayne and Kim Darby (from the original Star Trek series episode “Miri”) and directed by Henry Hathaway. I saw it a few times growing up, but it had been awhile. It’s really good. While it does not boast the dark, brooding atmosphere of the new film (it’s actually a bit too bright for me…), John Wayne knocks it out of the park in the role of Rooster Cogburn (in the only role for which he won an Academy Award), as does Kim Darby playing Mattie Ross.
5 out of 5 stars