The Coen brothers have given us another reason to love them. Their take on True Grit is shot to perfection with the nice feel of an old western mixed with an up and coming actress that blows you away. I haven’t seen the version of True Grit starring John Wayne, and I haven’t read the book which this film is based on, but this film judged on its own has something for almost every movie lover, a little action, some great cinematography, wonderful score, all around stunning performances and a great story to bring it all together.
The story of True Grit is a basic revenge plot with a determined young lady calling the shots. Mattie Ross’s dad was murdered in cold blood by a man named Tom Chaney. She hires a marshal by the name of Rooster Cogburn to help hunt him down. On their journey they run into a Texas Ranger named LaBouef, who helps them find all associates Chaney has been with recently. The three main characters have their ups and downs with each other as they hunt down Chaney and the gang he is with. At several points during the story I really felt that things could go in any direction, which is something I originally enjoyed. I liked not knowing who they were going to find next or who was going to find them. The Coen brothers manage to take a simple story and really put a fresh spin on it. It’s sprinkled with a dark sense of humor and a few scenes of violence, which was another thing that surprised me, this film is only rated PG13, yet they show you more than enough blood. Cogburn shoots a man at point blank range right in the head and the Coens were kind enough to show us the outcome.
The performances in this were great. Most people knew what to expect from guys like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and even Josh Brolin, but the person who stole the show was Hailee Steinfeld. Haliee played the character of Mattie Ross and she played it perfectly. She had a sense of anger and control. You knew how badly she wanted to find Chaney, but at the same time she kept her calm and managed to do everything by the book. I believe her character was supposed to be fourteen, but she might as well have been twenty. The maturity that she brought to the character was very different. If this movie is any indication of what her future acting skills are like, then we are in for a treat.
The music was so simple and classic that I couldn’t help but to love it. It mainly consisted of soft piano strokes and that really helped give it that comfortable feeling. It just sort of took over the background as we watched the movie unfold. When scenes would start to build some tension the music would react accordingly. The cinematography was filled with mainly light browns and grays. Don’t recall much brightness, which again helped set the old western setting. Lots of wide ranged land shots were used and it helped show the openness of the Wild West, such an empty and undiscovered world. Chaney had all that space to hide in.
I really don’t have anything to complain about in this film. There was one thing that sort of surprised me and that was how the whole second half ended. I had it in my head that it would play out as Cogburn chasing down Chaney and getting the girl back, but instead it all happened very fast. That isn’t really considered a bad thing, but more of a surprise.
Overall, True Grit is another great movie to help end the year. I feel incredibly lucky to have watched Black Swan and True Grit within a matter of days. Both left a great taste in my mouth and I can’t wait to see the The Fighter as I hope that will help end 2010 on a very high note. If you’re a fan of westerns then you owe it to yourself to check this out, hell, if you’re a fan of action, drama, great film making, the Coen brothers or just MOVIES…. see this thing! You won’t regret it.
True Grit – 9.5/10