Viewed – 30 July 2011 Blu-ray
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis, will know I’m a die hard fan of sibling directors Joel & Ethan Coen. Bar a couple of minor misteps (Intolerable Cruelty, and to a lesser extent, A Simple Man), they generally deliver interesting and very well made pieces of cinema. In this ambitious re-make / adaptation of the classic John Wayne movie and the book by Charles Portis, they bring to the screen the story of 14 year old Mattie Ross, a girl seeking the man who killed her father. Hot off the train and new in town, she hires a washed up Marshal (Jeff Bridges) and soon convinces him to help her find the man she seeks.
When viewing the trailers, I at first feared that the girl playing Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) would be a bit too arrogant to actually enjoy watching. Oh how wrong I was. She is easily one of the most impressive young actors I have seen, echoing the child-star presence of Jodie Foster and carries the movie admirably, steeling many a scene from her older co-stars, including a likably bumbling Matt Damon. Coen’s regular cinematographer, Roger Deakins is on fine form and makes the old west look beautiful, with some moments visually breathtaking. Bridges, although playing a rather croaky, past-his-prime character is still effortlessly cool, although a lack of backstory is a shame. Coen’s fans will spot many of the brother’s motifs in the sharply written (and performed) dialogue and wealth of oddball, quirky characters, including a near-unrecognisable Josh Brolin.
The story is let down a touch by its simplictiy and perhaps a lack of depth to some of the characters, but this is hidden well by each actors absorbing portrayal, especially Hailee Steinfeld who’s gutsy, albiet naive character made the movie for me … and marks her out as a talent to watch. Also the movie is book-ended by a voice over that feels out of place, and the down-beat ending left me deflated.
Overall though, this remains a western well worth your time.
Verdict: 3.5 /5
- ‘True Grit’ Behind The Scenes: Hailee Steinfeld On Working With The Coen Brothers (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- Rumor: Hailee Steinfeld the Top Choice to Star in ‘Carrie’ Remake? (slashfilm.com)
- Review: True Grit (vortexeffect.net)