Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross’s (Hailee Steinfeld) father has been shot in cold blood by the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and she is determined to bring him to justice. Enlisting the help of a trigger-happy, drunken U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), she sets out with him — over his objections — to hunt down Chaney. Her father’s blood demands that she pursue the criminal into Indian territory and find him before a Texas Ranger named LeBoeuf (Matt Damon) catches him and brings him back to Texas for the murder of another man.
Set in the harsh wilds of the 1870s frontier in the US, True Grit takes place in a violent, desolate and stark landscape. Though often beautiful, the sheer danger and vastness of these United States never let’s you forget that this is a mans’ world and you have to be a man to live in it.
With that in mind, in walks Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld). As the sole representative to settle her father’s affairs after being shot and robbed by the simple yet dangerous Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), she wants retribution and will stop at nothing to get it.
Jeff Bridges is absolutely perfect as the cantankerous and hard hearted – Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn. His performance is truly amazing to watch and, if I may be so bold, gives a better performance of Rooster Cogburn than John Wayne. Come Oscar time, I can see him getting the gold statue.
Matt Damon gives the performance of his career. His character, Texas Ranger LeBoeuf, could have been a caricature, but Damon plays it on a knife’s edge. There are moments in the film where you forget that this is the same man who played Jason Bourne. It’s refreshing to see him in almost a character role other than the leading man that we are so used to seeing.
There’s only one thing wrong with Josh Brolin’s performance – not enough screen time. Although he isn’t in the film a lot, he is talked about throughout, creating a myth about him before we really meet him – much like Javier Bardems’ Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
Hailee Steinfeld should win an Academy Award for her performance. She may be new, but her performance is one of the most impressive debuts ever. It’s her movie. The sheer stubborness and determination she imbues Mattie with is magical.
The film is simply gorgeous to look at. Roger Deakins captures an America that we have rarely seen in cinema. It’s both beautiful and stark, often at the same time. Capturing what can only be called a nostalgic feeling, he makes the movie feel real and palpable.
The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, decided to go back to the original book instead of baseing their screenplay on the original movie. Theirs was a good idea. Making it more of a character study than a bombastic action feast, they’ve created a living, breathing and organic feeling film.
With a light sroke instead of a heavy hand, they glide you through the tale with confidence. They are masters at their craft and True Grit stands head and shoulders above any of their previous work.
The visuals and score, by Carter Burwell, compliment each other very succinctly and the film truly deserves all the accolades it is getting.
I give this film 5 out of 5 stars
TRUE GRIT starts in cinemas this Thursday 20th of January