True Grittakes a unique approach to the modern western, trading in the traditional solemn, dry, overly serious tone for a darkly comedic, impeccably acted one that really allows it to differentiate itself among its peers in the genre as a film that bucks trends rather than embrace the status quo.
True Grit is a fine film, boasting tremendous performances, a compelling narrative, and plenty of gunfire to satisfy almost every movie goer. It’s not a flawless movie, but in a weak year, it’s likely to be adorned with plenty of accolades, many of which will be directed toward the stellar cast.
Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is startlingly brilliant as the stubborn 14-year-old Mattie Ross, set out to find a bounty hunter capable of bringing her father’s killer to justice. On her journey to find the best, she uncovers rough and rugged U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, played by Jeff Bridges. Along with Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Matt Damon), they embark on a trek to track down the murderous Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).
Steinfeld is an absolute revelation as Mattie. She’s strong willed, quick witted, and able to hold her own in a rough man’s world. Words almost can’t describe how wonderful Steinfeld’s performance is. She holds her own with a pair of Hollywood Heavyweights, and is dynamic in her ability to hold the entire movie together.
Bridges is likewise fantastic as Rooster Cogburn, providing a unique, humorous approach to the legendary character previously played by Academy Award winner and film legend, John Wayne. Bridges is a villainous hero, one who is unreliable and bitter, but also happens to be successful in hunting down other villains. Bridges doesn’t try to channel John Wayne, instead going his own route which I found refreshing. Bridges’ great timing brings humor into a genre almost completely devoid of it.
The film never labors in it’s approach, and what’s at stake for each character keeps the movie bleakly vibrant amongst a staggeringly beautiful terrain. The Coen Brothers infuse the Western genre with their trademark style, True Grit is a very good movie that isn’t groundbreaking, but is unique enough to emerge as one of the finest films of 2010.
Score: 8/10 (Very Good)