Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, a man with "true grit," Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn. Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her "grit" tested. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Judge Parker (referred to several times during the movie) was an actual judge in Fort Smith, AR. He was known as "Hanging Judge" Parker. See more »
Early in the movie, there is a shot of a train, which is fitted with modern knuckle couplers and air brakes, neither of which had been invented at the time the action in the movie is to have taken place. See more »
People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood. But it did happen. I was just 14 years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down and robbed him of his life and his horse and two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. Chaney was a hired man and Papa had taken him up to Fort Smith to help lead back a string of Mustang ponies he'd bought. In town, Chaney had ...
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Buster Coen, Ethan Coen's son, is listed in the end credits as "Mr. Damon's abs double". In reality, he was an on-set assistant to the script supervisor. See more »
You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.
When her farmer father is killed by the fleeing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), 14 year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), exasperated by nothing being done about it, decides to hire someone herself. The man she hires is tough, one-eyed US Marshall Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a boozy lawman who is a law unto himself. Joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon), who also seeks Chaney for another crime, the three of them head off into the Indian territory on a quest for justice.
When news of a True Grit remake was announced, it was met with the now standard grumbles that accompany any such news. Eyebrows were further raised when it was known that it would be the Coen brothers taking on the job of reworking the much loved, but hardly a genre classic, John Wayne starrer of 1969. After all, who can forget their previous poor foray into remake territory with The Ladykillers (2004)? But after the critical and financial success of their "contemporary" Western, No Country for Old Men, the source material for True Grit looked a nice fit for the Coen's, and with them announcing they were to cleave close to Portis' novel, hopes were high of a modern Western fit to sit alongside the likes of Unforgiven in terms of stature and widespread appeal. The film duly delivered. Even though the initial interest in the film was no doubt helped by the ever increasing fan base of the Coen's, True Grit went on to be almost unanimously acclaimed by the critics, making over $200 million in profit Worldwide and garnering 10 Academy Award nominations in the process. For once, all the praise and back slapping is warranted.
It's a film where everything just comes together because all the big decisions have been called correctly. From inspired casting, technical prowess and the biggest decision of them all; following the book and telling it from Mattie Ross' perspective, True Grit is as close to perfection as a new millennium Western is going to get. The Coen's have managed to craft a classic old time Western rife with stock genre characters, and infuse it with evocative beauty, mythical tones and Biblical undercurrents. Not forgetting a narrative that is propelled forward by a revenge core and coming of age wonderment. The script pings with lyrical smarts that hark back to an era long since dead, yet bringing with it an elegiac poeticism that plants us the viewers firmly in the period. Helps of course that the source story is so strong from which to launch such delights. Mattie Ross, indomitable at 14 years of age, is forced to grow up faster than should have been needed, and story involves the critical passage of play in her life. Yet as she is awakened to the harsh realities of her era, evidenced by the tragic murder of her father, she also comes to see the flip-side of bad humanity, and it's this, with Rooster Cogburn in tow, that gives the film its key ingredient: big heart. Come the emotional stirrings of the coda at the end of the film, the heart is the organ that feels it the most.
There are very few film fans who would deny Jeff Bridges his new found acceptance as a top draw actor, here he cements his reputation with a wonderful turn as old rascal Cogburn. Wisely not channelling Duke Wayne's take on the role, Bridges puts his own stamp on it, playing it lovably slobbish and with a voice gravelled by many years of hard drinking and tobacco smoking. Once the layers start to come off, after being exposed to Mattie Ross' courage and determination, Bridges gives Rooster an emotional depth that didn't seem possible in the beginning. A double hander from Bridges, the end result being a classic case of character acting. He is helped no end by the chemistry with Steinfeld, who in light of it being her first big screen outing, turns in an astonishingly mature performance. She gives Mattie a steely determination, quick of mouth and mind, yet always remaining one inch away from the melancholy brought about by the sudden change in life circumstance. It wouldn't have been hard for Damon to improve upon the inept performance of Glen Campbell as LaBoeuf in the 69 version, but he plays off of Bridges with unassuming ease. Playing the cocky bravado and comedy at just the right tempo, he knows just when to underplay the critical scenes. In support, Brolin as Chaney is just dandy, himself orally challenged, while Barry Pepper, himself a fine character actor, turns in a memorable treat as scuzzy outlaw Lucky Ned Pepper.
Rounding out the list of achievements is Roger Deakins and Carter Burwell's respective work. Both of whom are now well established as important pieces of weaponry in the Coen's armoury. With the Coen's favouring a Biblical tint to proceedings, Burwell came up with the idea of playing on hymns and church like flecks to soundtrack the film. An unusual "score", it flows sweetly with the narrative. Most potent is the strains of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" used to form Mattie's theme, fans of The Night of the Hunter will need no introduction to that particular piece. Deakins' photography is gorgeous, and it's not just about capturing sprawling vistas either. His close photographing of bare trees and parched land is pin sharp in detail, while the winter setting that dominates the last quarter lets him showcase the skill of lighting for best possible impact. More memorable, though, is his ability to utilise outdoor light for interior scenes. As touched upon in a sadly too small extra on the home format releases, a court room scene has Rooster cloaked by shards of light, giving him an aura of mysticism to the watching Mattie. A stunning piece of work in what all told is a stunning film. 10/10
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