TRUE GRIT (2010); written and directed by the Coen Brothers, does more than just remake the 1969 film starring John Wayne. True Grit was originally a 1968 serial publication penned by Charles Portis. It told of the adventures of Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year old girl looking to avenge her father’s death by going after his killer, Tom Chaney. His stories were published in the Saturday Evening Post, and the story line was a bit different. Eventually, the compilations were made into a novel, and then a movie, and then, the 2010 version.
True Grit takes place in the latter half of the eighteen hundreds in the western half of the United States. It is the story of a fourteen year old girl, Mattie Ross (portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld), who is in pursuit to avenge her father’s killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Being that she cannot go hunt down Chaney by herself, she gets three recommendations for bounty hunters, but chooses U.S. Marshall “Rooster” Cogburn because he has, what they call, “true grit.” He also knows the lay of the land, which is critical because Mattie doesn’t.
Cogburn agrees to Mattie’s terms, but tricks her and embarks on the journey without her along with Texas ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), LaBoeuf had been pursuing Chaney for killing someone in Texas, and wants to bring him to justice for his death penalty solely for the death of the Texan. The determined young protagonist, however, catches up to the odd couple and they continue their journey.
Mattie and Cogburn separate at one point from LeBoeuf. Mattie and Cogburn take refuge at a house at one point, and they rejoin the Texan ranger after an attack on the shack where refuge is taken. However, their action-filled journey brings them back together for avenging Tom Chaney.
Ethan and Joel Coen felt that when making an updated version of True Grit, it should mirror the novel more than the old version of the film. Before shooting, Ethan Coen had said, “It’s partly a question of point-of-view. The book is entirely in the voice of the 14-year-old girl. That sort of tips the feeling of it over a certain way. I think [the book is] much funnier than the movie was so I think, unfortunately, they lost a lot of humour in both the situations and in her voice.”
With this, Bridges was an excellent selection to portray Cogburn, with a very comical performance. Being the drunken U.S. Marshall past his prime, he rambled and stumbled all over the place throughout the movie. I must admit, it was hard to take him seriously when he really tried to pull it all together to take on anyone they met whilst on their journey. However, I don’t see why we should take him seriously as Cogburn to start with; the movie was meant to be comical.
Hailee Steinfeld, only fourteen years of age, is a promising young actress. She was perfect for the role of the “gritty” Mattie. Movie-goers everywhere were impressed with her performance; Steinfeld has a bright future ahead of her.
Matt Damon, too, did not disappoint as Texas ranger LaBoeuf. He balanced out Cogburn’s possible sanity with his pragmatic ideas of how to hunt down Chaney. His sarcastic remarks add more comic relief to the film.
“True Grit” is a phenomenal movie. It is currently nominated for ten Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Bridges), Best Supporting Actress (Steinfeld), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. The innovative reproduction of the 1969 classic will satisfy all Western fans, and then some as well.