True Grit review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Joel and Ethan Coen put their stamp on the American Western with ‘True Grit’, a remake of the 1969 film starring John Wayne. Jeff Bridges takes on Wayne’s iconic character US Marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn and in her star turn, Hailee Steinfeld plays the young Mattie Ross, who hires him to find the killer of her father – outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). The motley crew is completed by Matt Damon as Texas Ranger LaBouef, and though they relent to work together, they end up becoming a sort of ‘payback team’ anyway. Trouble is: Cogburn is a functioning, stubborn drunk who prefers to work alone, LaBeouf is dashing but lacks tracking skills, and Mattie is an adolescent girl – deemed weak and a liability for her age, even when she can be enthusiastic and quite the smartest in the bunch.
At first I was apprehensive with the idea that writers-directors Joel and Ethan Coen were tackling a remake. They are best known for producing original screenplays – Oscar winners even (ex: ‘Fargo’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’) – and to me, it felt like they were on their lazy chairs when they decided to make their own version of ‘True Grit’. I frown upon remakes because the adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ exists for a reason. However, the Coens would want to change my mind.
And change they did.
With repeat collaborators Bridges (‘The Big Lebowski’) and Brolin (‘No Country for Old Men’) and the addition of Damon and Steinfeld, their chemistry proves to be the perfect recipe for a refreshing Western. The staples of gun-slinging, characters on horseback, cowboy hats, and that dang Southern accent do not cheapen its story. As far as revenge films go this is in the Top Ten. Perfectly cast as the movie’s protagonist is Hailee Steinfeld. What a trooper. Can you imagine having to star alongside experienced actors such as Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon? That could have been a very intimidating task. But Steinfeld holds her own even earning an Academy Award nomination herself. Truly, hell hath no fury than a 14-year-old girl scorned.