Written & directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis
Produced by Scott Rudin & the Coens
Released by Paramount Pictures
USA. 110 min. Rated PG-13
With Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Dakin Matthews, Paul Rae, Domhnall Gleeson & Elizabeth Marvel
“I was told you were a man of true grit.” Those are the words of Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old force of nature who could just as easily be describing herself. Turns out she’s speaking to Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn as played by Jeff Bridges, continuing his never-ending upward career trajectory.
While Mattie (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) may be young in years, she has the steely determination of someone far older. She has traveled to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to bury her father and to avenge his killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), a decrepit simpleton traveling with a bunch of outlaws. This is the Old West after all, a place where—no pun intended—it’s an eye for an eye. (In fact, Rooster happens to be missing one.) The marshal has a history of violence, with a bloody trail in his wake. Early on at an inquiry, he is cross-examined by an attorney about his renegade style. He might be a drunk and a cad, but he’s also a marksman and believes in his own brand of justice.
Rooster Cogburn is the creation of author Charles Portis, who has been getting a lot of press recently. One reason, no doubt, is because he has been largely ignored for the past 30 years but also perhaps because a lot of filmmakers taking on remakes like to say they have gone back to the original source (Matt Reeve’s recent “Let Me In” comes to mind). And as far as “True Grit” is concerned, that well may be true, but the patched eye is only one thing that brings the iconic John Wayne and the 1969 version to mind. Continue reading