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True Grit (2010)

Punishment comes one way or another

Directed by:

Ethan Coen

Joel Coen

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 110 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

Not often these days has a Western been as keenly anticipated as True Grit but with the Coen Brothers at the helm it always stood more of a chance than most. Their remake lives up to hype and probably even surpasses the classic original with John Wayne.

When 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross’s (Steinfield) father is killed by an outlaw named Tom Chaney (Brolin), she sets about trying to hunt him down with the assistance of ‘Rooster’ Cogburn (Bridges), a U.S Marshall and part-time drunk, and LaBoeuf (Damon), a Texas Ranger and long-time assailant of the fugitive. As the party trek into Injun territory the two men bicker and face danger from the gang whom Chaney has attached himself to.

As with most Coen Brothers films, True Grit is all about characterisation and the siblings are helped by a number of performances of real star quality. Jeff Bridges provides a memorable turn as ‘Rooster’ Cogburn and really makes the role his own with a myriad of character traits. Matt Damon shines in an understated role and Hailee Steinfield steals the show as the gutsy young lady exuding a confidence and strength rarely depicted by a woman, or girl, in the genre. The chemistry between the gang is evident as they share a good olden style banter that brings a surprising amount of well-placed humour to the film.  These are all supplemented by gorgeous cinematography and many arrestingly beautiful stills.

A few problems lie in the underused Josh Brolin who provides a disappointing mere cameo and a finale which is a bit of an anti-climax as it never looks like providing any shocks. Nonetheless, these negatives don’t take too much away from a very good film.

It's Got: Humour, excellent cinematography, a number of great performances

It Needs: More Josh Brolin, less of an anti-climatic finale

Alternatives:

3:10 to Yuma, No Country for Old Men, The Proposition, True Grit (1969)

Summary

The Coen Brothers surpass the original thanks to their trademark humour, gorgeous cinematography and a host of excellent performances.

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