True Grit is one of 2010’s best films with stellar performances by main actors Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld. The remake of the 1969 John Wayne film was entertaining, tense and had great suspenseful moments. Mattie Ross’s (Steinfeld) father has just been shot dead by Tom Chaney, (Josh Brolin) a known robber. The sharp-minded 14-year-old commissions U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) to find Chaney so she can avenge her father’s murder.
But the cynical Cogburn doesn’t expect the young girl to ride along on the adventure with him. Despite their best attempts, the two bond during the search in a father-daughter type way. Mattie begins to admire and look up to Cogburn, in some scenes she even attempts to parrot some of his mannerisms. Cogburn surprises himself by opening his heart a little and caring about someone, albeit briefly. The continual razzing between Bridges and Steinfeld’s characters added a legitimacy to their character’s budding friendship. It was like they quickly became longtime friends. What I liked about the dynamic as well, was that Cogburn was one of the first people to actually take Mattie seriously on her adventure instead of dissuading her just because she was a young female. The two actors were sensitive to their character’s motives and feelings and I really hope they make out well during the awards season.
Eric Robinette agrees the performances were of top caliber, “Unsurprisingly, Jeff Bridges plays grizzled very well, and he makes a great Rooster Cogburn. John Wayne devotees may kill me for saying this but he outshine the Duke’s performance in all respects … She is absolutely fantastic as a girl who simply won’t take no for an answer, wearing down everyone around her with her unstinting logic and determination. This is the second best female performance of the year, after Natalie Portman in Black Swan.”
Matt Damon’s character, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, was interesting to say the least. LaBoeuf has been hunting for Chaney for years and his search leads him to Cogburn and Mattie Ross. Of course, he butted heads with Cogburn at first but eventually the three become a sort of tight-knit group with one similar goal. LaBoeuf’s character bordered on pervert as he had a noticeable crush on Mattie. On a side note, because that’s all it warrants, Brolin’s character was so weak in this film. The writing seemed to lack foresight from the Coens on the character of Chaney, as they were able to deliver sharp-tongued dialogue with the others.
The film rings true to its name — it was a gritty look at Western crime during an older time. Both Cogburn and Mattie had what she called ‘true grit.’ They were sometimes off putting, but always honest. Ethan and Joel Coen certainly lived up to their potentials on this film. The atmosphere and quality was typical of the Coen brothers, and this is one of their most enjoyable films.
Robinette on the other hand, thinks it’s one of the Coen brothers’ most by-the-books films, “This may be one of the Coen brothers’ more disappointing works in that it plays much more conventionally than usual for such deliciously unorthodox filmmakers. It may be one of the Coens’ more conventional movies, but it’s also one of their most flat-out entertaining.”