Film Review: "True Grit (2010)"

(20th Century Fox.  1 hour, 50 minutes.  Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images.  Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen.)  Jeff Bridges (Rooster Cogburn), Hailee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross), Matt Damon (LaBoeuf), Josh Brolin (Tom Chaney), Barry Pepper (Lucky Ned Pepper).  Music by Carter Burwell.
Vying to avenge her father's death, Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) hires the drunken and irascible Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) to hunt down the cowardly Tom Chaney (Brolin).  Joined by the unlucky Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Damon), the three set off into the wilderness. A sparse, Old West revenge tale.

Adhering closer to the book than the 1960's John Wayne vehicle, True Grit is a beautifully shot film anchored by strong performances but hampered by occasionally clunky dialogue.  The story is straightforward enough: a young girl wants revenge and hires the meanest old cur to help her.  There's no great symbolism or epic sweep: it's a very small story, the telling of which combines the austerity of a No Country for Old Men with the Coens' typical sardonic humor.  Much of this is delivered in a throaty rasp by Bridges, who turns in another great performance as the competent-when-he-needs-to-be Cogburn.  Newcomer Steinfeld (winner of the Houston Film Critic Society's award for best supporting actress, and sure to have more nods coming her way) holds her own with a dry wit and pitch-perfect delivery.  Damon seems to be having fun as the bumbling LaBoeuf and Brolin once again proves his acting chops.  The script runs roughshod over a few spots (one of which contains the awesome line "You give very little sugar with your pronouncements!", spat by LaBoeuf after being sarcastically bested by the 14-year-old Ross).  Coen regular Burwell provides an intimate, gospel-inspired score that greatly compliments the film.  A well-made remake, enjoyable by Coen fans and non-fans alike.
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Jared Counts

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Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies...