True Grit

There is not much argument that to the Western is one of the least popular genres in film today.  Some may say documentaries are, but there are more of those being released today than you may know.  It’s almost a conundrum on how one of the most popular genres in Hollywood is barely ever seen anymore.  Even after “Unforgiven” won for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1993 the movie going public was not bombarded with Westerns, which is surprising since movie studios usually love to jump on each others bandwagons. 

Joel and Ethan Cohen are a unique pair of filmmakers for many reasons.  One of which is because they can make a quality movie in any genre; horror, comedy, drama, they’ve done it all and has almost always known success.  So it should come as no big surprise they wanted to try their hands at a true Western and they decided to remake the 1969 movie, “True Grit” based on the novel of the same name.  This was the movie that earned John Wayne his only Oscar for Best Actor. 


The movie focuses on Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a 14-year-old girl whose father was just murdered by a man named, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).  Mattie wants to see Mr. Chaney brought to justice and seek out the help of United States Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges).  Mattie admires Cogburn’s “True Grit” after seeing him as a witness at a trial where he explains why he killed someone in self defense.  Cogburn agrees to pursue Chaney, but he is not the only one seeking him out.  A Texas Ranger, Mr. La Boeuf (Matt Damon) is also on Chaney’s trail for gunning down a senator.  Mattie does not want La Boeuf along while the two men do not wish to have a teenaged girl as part of their posse.

The Cohen brothers have once again turned out a beautiful looking movie.  It is finely crafted in every way that you would expect from these two master artists.  On the other hand, it IS a Western.  The bottom line is that if you are a fan of the Western genre there is no reason you will not love this movie.  If you are not a fan of the genre, this movie is not going to sway you any differently and you probably won’t care for it much at all.  There are a lot of scenes of the three main characters just walking along on their horses and having conversations by the campfire.  So the movie will probably feel very slow movie to those who do not care for the genre while fans will probably be soaking up every minute of it.  There is some real sharp dialogue going on at times, along with some real thick accents of the time (sometimes it is hard making out exactly what Bridges is saying).  There is a real Western score along the movie as well.

Jeff Bridges found a great companion piece to follow up his Oscar winning performance from last year.  He’s brilliant playing to role originated by one of the most famous Western actors ever, John Wayne.  Matt Damon continues to show great versatility in his acting abilities and it would be no surprise to see him walk away with an acting Oscar some day to go along with his one for screenplay writing.  Brolin delivers another fin performance and Barry Pepper, who plays “Lucky” Ned Pepper, is almost unrecognizable in the movie.  Steinfeld is the real stand-out here, which is saying something considering all the great talent that is surrounding her.  She carries the entire movie as she is in every scene, and she carries the movie well.  This is one young lady whose star is certainly going to rise very soon.

“True Grit” is sure to attract a more mature crowd than a younger one.  Plus, the filmmakers have their own fans that will go see the movie, but they may not get what they expect here.  Fans of the novel will be pleased to learn that this version follows the book more closely than the original movie did.  The movie offers a different choice during this crowded holiday movie season.  It is rated PG-13 for violence and some disturbing images.