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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mattie says the title of the film to Rooster when she meets him outside of the courtroom. She says, "They tell me you're a man with true grit." See more »
When LaBoeuf first meets Mattie Ross in her room at the boarding house, he is smoking a pipe. At one point during their conversation, LaBoeuf puts his pipe down on the table next to his chair. The smoke curling up from the pipe suddenly changes shape and position. 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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Drew Houpt is credited as "The New Duke", an apparent reference to John Wayne ('The Duke') who starred in the original film. See more »
Near the end of October, I handpicked True Grit along with Black Swan and The Fighter as three films that could potentially go on to become the film of the year. Joel and Ethan Coen were reuniting with Jeff Bridges after all in True Grit and that was exciting enough, but the Coens managed to take a remake of a western from 1969 starring John Wayne and give it a modern retelling without desecrating the original in the process.
Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) will stop at nothing to gain revenge on Tom Chaney (Brolin), the man responsible for killing her father. She comes across a U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) who is equally as drunk as he is reckless. As Mattie begins to make arrangements with Cogburn, she meets a Texas ranger named LaBoeuf (Damon) who's been tracking Chaney for months and is committed to capturing Chaney alive and bring him back to Texas to collect his reward money. Mattie begins to think she may have chosen the wrong man for the job once the trail to finding Chaney becomes cold, but sometimes fate intervenes and has a way of rectifying a dismal situation; what you so desperately seek is right under your nose.
Roger Deakins did a hell of a job with the cinematography in this film. The atmosphere in the film is just right to make it feel like this was shot forty years ago with the technology of today. The way the film is shot gives an authentic western feel that is impossible to ignore. The opening scene is a great example, as well. We fade-in to a light source slowly emerging on a black screen as the blurry scene slowly begins to focus and we're shown the first tragedy of the film. The lighting was also exceptional. Conversations around a campfire and in candle light have never looked so great. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the film is the use of snow. It always seems to be snowing whenever a character relevant to the story has either died or has been critically injured.
You spend most of the time in True Grit getting to know both Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn along with the brief relationship they had. We follow Mattie Ross as it's proved time and time again that she's incredibly intelligent for a fourteen year old and, unless guns are involved, is more than capable of taking care of herself. For her first film, Hailee Steinfeld is impressive in an extraordinary kind of way. Her stubborn attitude is portrayed in a way that makes Mattie come off as a strong woman character who is still too young to be saying or partaking in the events that unfold. Rooster Cogburn is another memorable character to add to Jeff Bridges resume that he portrays to drunken excellence. The one down side is that his rambling is incoherent at times. Imagine having a wad of snuff in one cheek and a mouthful of cotton balls in the other while trying to talk and that's how Cogburn sounds more often than not. But what you are capable of understanding is pretty brilliant whether Cogburn is telling a story from his past and letting his dry humor shine through, trying to convince LaBoeuf to let him rip out his tongue, or drunkenly trying to shoot cornbread he threw into the air to prove that he's a good shot, Cogburn is a rather colorful character that Bridges brilliantly portrays. One man that may get overlooked is Barry Pepper. He doesn't receive a lot of screen time as Lucky Ned Pepper, but he certainly makes a lasting impression with what little time he does have on screen.
True Grit is not chock full of gunslinging action and doesn't really get the adrenaline flowing until the latter half of the film, but what the film lacks in action is made up with longwinded and unintelligible ramblings of a colorful drunk, the heavy detailing of a young girl stopping at nothing to revenge her father's death, and a Texas ranger who spends his time trying to convince everyone that he deserves to be respected. The engrossing dialogue will put off some, but is probably the aspect of the film that drives it the most. Beautiful cinematography and incredible lighting certainly make the film look like a genuine western film while Jeff Bridges gives another performance that could see him get another Oscar nomination as Mattie Ross may get one her first time out. Despite the film being a little slow at times, everything else in the film is so fantastic that it certainly should be considered one of the last must see films of the year.
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