Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, based on the novel True Grit by Charles Portis
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson
Running Time: 110 minutes
Genre: Western, adventure
Summary: Arkansas, 1878: While collecting the body of her murdered father and settling his business affairs, fourteen year old Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) decides to hire a US Marshall to track down her father's killer, a hired hand named Tom Chaney (Brolin). Searching for a man with "true grit" Mattie decides to hire Rueben "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges), an alcoholic who nevertheless has a reputation of being the toughest and most ruthless Marshall around. Eventually Cogburn reluctantly agrees to be hired by Mattie, however he is much less agreeable to her condition that she accompany him on the trail. However, she follows Cogburn anyway, and discovers that he has formed an uneasy partnership with a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Damon), who is also on the hunt for Chaney, who is wanted in Texas for killing a Senator. The three embark on the dangerous trail through wild hostile terrain on the hunt for Chaney, who has joined up with a gang of violent armed robbers.
Summary: True Grit was previously made into a film in 1969 with John Wayne playing "Rooster" Cogburn (a performance for which Wayne won the only Academy Award of his career) and has since become a staple of Sunday afternoon television.
The new version is certainly more intense and violent than the earlier film, but it also has more heart. It has a witty and intelligent script and makes good use of wintery New Mexico and Texan locations. It also boasts a strong cast with Jeff Bridges perfectly cast as the mean, tough, but fundamentally decent Cogburn, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (who was 13 years old at the time of filming) delivering a superb performance as the intelligent and determined Mattie. The movie also boasts a strong soundtrack, primarily consisting of 19th Century Church music which works perfectly with the film's time and location.
Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote and directed the film, are among the best film-makers working today, and the film has a genuine stately grandeur in both it's powerful visuals and soundtrack, and also delivers in the all-important action sequences with some brilliant shootouts.
This film is a great return to the classic Western, which is a must-see for fans of the genre as well as delivering enough action and humour to appeal to those who ordinarily would never watch a Western.
Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges hit the trail in True Grit