Coen brothers' western shoots straight and true
True Grit Western; Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon >BY MARK EVANS
With a series of quirky movies such as Barton Fink, Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou, under their belts, you could be forgiven for thinking that a Western might be a step too far for the Coen brothers. While the quirkiness is still there, True Grit is a damned good movie and told straight.
It's a classic Western revenge drama, with teenage Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) out to avenge the murder of her father by local ne'er-do-well Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).
In Coen fashion, she's no normal kid -- tough-talking, proud and courageous she's also bloody annoying. She enlists the services of a veteran manhunter. The best in the business is Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, above). Unfortunately he's also a cranky old drunk. The search looks doomed from the start, particularly as the duo have a passenger onboard -- LaBoeuf (Matt Damon in good comical form), a Texas Ranger out of his depth in the badlands.
Much has been made of the use of formal language, but it really works and doesn't get in the way of the storytelling. The movie is a gentle homage to the classic genre, full of shootouts, hangings and campfire chats on the trail. It's funny, and gets more enjoyable as a bond develops between Mattie and Reuben.
The ending does get sugary, but it's a minor quibble. Recommended.
DVD extras: Deleted scenes, blooper reel, cast commentaries and featurettes.