True Grit Reviewed

Time to head back to the old west for one of this month's Oscar nominated films. Jeff Bridges becomes bad ass in this remake of True Grit.

The Plot

Written and directed by the Coen brothers. This 2010 version of True Grit  is the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper.

The film is narrated by the adult Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel), who explains that her father was murdered by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), when she was 14; Chaney made off with her father's horses and two of his California gold pieces. While collecting her father's body, Mattie (played as a 14-year-old by Hailee Steinfeld) inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track down Chaney. She is given three recommendations, but chooses to hire Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), because he is described as the most merciless. He repeatedly rebuffs her attempts to hire him.

Meanwhile, at the boarding house where she is staying, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) arrives on the trail of Chaney. LaBoeuf has been pursuing him for several months over a murder in Texas. He proposes to Mattie that they should team up with Cogburn, since the Marshal knows the Choctaw terrain where Chaney is hiding, while LaBoeuf knows how the man is most likely to behave. Mattie rejects LaBoeuf's offer, partially because he would take Chaney back to Texas to be hanged for the prior murder, instead of her father's. After finally securing Cogburn's services, Mattie is instructed to meet him the following morning to begin the search for Chaney, though instead of meeting Mattie, Cogburn leaves a note telling her to go home while he goes to apprehend Chaney.

After she is refused passage on the river ferry that conveyed Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie rides into the water and is pulled across by her swimming horse. On the far side, she learns that the two men have agreed to split the Texas reward for Chaney. Accusing him of fraud, Mattie threatens to have Cogburn arrested for breaking their agreement, which specified that she must accompany him on the manhunt. Reluctantly, he allows Mattie to come along and the hunt for Chaney begins.

The Verdict

"Girded by strong performances from Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, and lifted by some of the Coens' most finely tuned, unaffected work, True Grit is a worthy companion to the Charles Portis book." Rotten Tomattoes

I have to agree with what Rotten Tomattoes said, Jeff Bridges put in a performance worthy of his award nominations. You would believe by his performance that Marshal Cogburn was a man of grit.

Matt Damon is no stranger to this stage, having already won an Oscar before. He fits perfectly into the story and his role is clearly defined. It's a movie where the actors are not trying to hard and in most ways having fun with portraying the gritty side to the old west.

Award nominations and wins

Broadcast Film Critics Association Award

Best Young Performer (Hailee Steinfeld)

Ten additional nominations in the following categories:

Best Film

Best Actor (Jeff Bridges)

Best Supporting Actress (Steinfeld)

Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Art Direction

Best Costume Design

Best Makeup

Best Score

Nomination for Screen Actors Guild Awards in the following categories:

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bridges)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Steinfeld)

Nominations for eight British Academy Film Awards:

Best Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bridges)

Best Actress in a Leading Role (Steinfeld)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Production Design

Best Costume Design

Roger Deakins won the award for Best Cinematography.

Nominations for ten Academy Awards:

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Actor (Bridges)

Best Supporting Actress (Steinfeld)

Best Art Direction

Best Cinematography

Best Costume Design

Best Sound Mixing

Best Sound Editing

Rating

4 Stars out of 5

POPCUlture Online March 2011 All Rights Reserved

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