True Grit (2010)
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.
"I do not know this man. "
The Coen Brothers are great, making films that are dark and serious (e.g. Blood Simple, No Country for Old Men), comic (The Big Lebowski) and so that combine the two (Miller's Crossing and Fargo). Their remake of True Grit fits into the latter but their remake of The Ladykillers was reason to give some people concern. Luckily they know how to make a remake right this time.
Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is a 14-year-old girl whom father had been murdered by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). She plans to gain revenge and make sure that Chaney is tried and hung for his crime, so looks to hire a bounty hunter. She hires the most ruthless deputy Marshall she could find, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), an elderly alcoholic. But a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) also wants Chaney for a crime he committed in Texas, working both as an ally and a foe. They go into the Indian territories to find Chaney and avoid bandits in the area.
The Coen Brothers set out to make a more gritty, Earthy type of Western and this approach has been used in many recent Westerns, Unforgiven, The Proposition, Deadwood, 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James. The Coen Brothers made the violence realistic but did not linger on it, getting shot was nasty but they did need buckets of blood to show it. The focus of the film was on the characters and the journey they had to go on. For a mainstream audience it works as a simple revenge story but it is the focus on the Mattie character that truly makes True Grit an interesting film. There action is not the main focus of the film: for the most part it was kept at a distance. The world The Coen's shows is bloody, dirty and hard, this is not a glamour version of the Wild West and more historical accurate. There is also plenty of dark imaginary, with the use of a wintry landscape, the dirt road town and the characters' clothes added with a soft, piano based score.
The acting is great in the film and Steinfeld is obvious talent for the future. Her performance had to hold the film because she was in nearly every scene. She should be nominated for Best Actress, not Supporting Actress. She made sure Mattie was a smart, quick witted character who was both funny and determined. She is a character who is still a young girl at the time. Bridges and Damon inject a lot of humour in the film and had excellent interplay with each other and with Steinfeld.
The best way to describe True Grit is that story and the imaginary is dark and serious, but the characters are make sure that the film is not a dower experience.
Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?