In 1870s US, a 14-year-old girl takes the help of a US Marshal and a Texas Ranger to snuff out her father’s killer. Read the review of True Grit for more.
Business rating: 1.5 stars
Star cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin.
What’s Good: The unique story; the performances.
What’s Bad: The pace of the drama – the film progresses rather slowly in the first few reels.
Verdict: True Grit is another fine film from the Coen brothers, but only for the elite audience. The Oscar buzz will add to its collections in the metros of India.
Loo break: None really.
Watch or Not? Definitely, if you are a fan of Coen brothers’ films or of Westerners.
Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions’ True Grit is a Western adventure about the vengeance of a young but courageous girl.
In the 1870s US, the setting of the film is frontier America just after the Civil War. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a 14-year-old girl, journeys to Fort Smith, determined to extract revenge for the death of her father, who was shot by one of his associates, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). After killing her father for two gold pieces, Chaney sets out into the Indian territory as a fugitive.
After Mattie very smartly takes care of her father’s body and the rest of his belongings, she starts on a mission of hiring the best US Marshal, who would arrest and maim the now scot-free Chaney. She finds Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), an old, whisky-drinking US Marshal, who has the reputation of being the most ruthless Marshal in town. Though Cogburn is reluctant to join Mattie, he quickly agrees after she produces the fee he demands.
Mattie also discovers that a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), has been following Tom Chaney’s tracks for months to arrest Chaney for the murder of a Texan senator. LaBoeuf wants to apprehend and take Chaney to Texas for a reward. But Mattie doesn’t want LaBoeuf to accompany her and Cogburn on their journey into the Indian territory. However, Cogburn makes a pact with LaBoeuf over arresting Chaney together and then sharing the spoils. Mattie is adamant. Finally, once into the territory, Cogburn and LaBoeuf part ways as each tries to impress Mattie with his glorious stories. What happens next? Is the trio able to complete its mission and track down Chaney? Does Mattie avenge her father’s murder? The rest of the film and the climax reveal the rest.
Story and Screenplay – True Grit Review
Based on Charles Portis’ classic American novel of the same name, True Grit is one of the most linear narratives coming from the Coen brothers’ stable. The strength of the screenplay (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) rests not only on the many twists and turns in the plot, but in the realistic, yet dramatic, interactions between its protagonists. The characters of Mattie, as a foolhardy but courageous young girl; of Cogburn, as the trigger-happy Marshal; and of LaBoeuf, as the nincompoop Ranger, endear themselves to the viewer and provide for ample conflict as the story progresses. The film is rather slow in the first few reels which, otherwise also, are difficult to understand because of the accent problem. But there aren’t many dull moments in the screenplay after the search party enters the territory. The viewer knows, all along, that the murderer will finally be nailed down, but the way in which this is brought about is interesting, at least for the classes. Needless to say, the Coen brothers’ trademark style of portraying action sequences, even bloodshed, realistically, will appeal to the elite section of the audience. The success of the writers lies in the fact that the viewer roots for Mattie, at the same time wondering what a young girl like her is doing in the midst of all the blood-letting. One more reason why the film would hold appeal mainly for the gentry audience is that it moves on a single track, which tends to make it tedious for the masses.
Star Performances – True Grit Review
Hailee Steinfeld delivers a superb performance throughout the film. Jeff Bridges is fine, as usual. Matt Damon plays the nervous Ranger perfectly. Josh Brolin (as the fugitive) and Barry Pepper (as Lucky Ned Pepper) also do well.
Direction and Music – True Grit Review
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s direction is the highlight of the film. They have made a Westerner, a genre of film that holds appeal for the class audience mainly. Carter Burwell’s background score goes with the mood of the film. Roger Deakins’ camerawork is fine. The Coen Brothers’ editing (as Roderick Jaynes) is also good.
The Last Word
All in all, True Grit, because of its honest story and the Oscar buzz, will receive appreciation but only from the classes in the cities.