Though it may have seemed that John Wayne was forever ingrained in the global consciousness as the hilariously named Rooster Cogburn, this remake of the famous 1969 movie gives Jeff Bridges a chance to take on the role and he makes it his own, delivering a different and more subtle interpretation to Wayne’s swaggering.
The story hasn’t changed much, following the killing of her father, a teenage farm girl sets out for revenge with the help of Cogburn, the most feared and toughest U.S. Marshall she can get. Not anyone’s idea of a “nice guy”, Cogburn reluctantly allows her to accompany him and are joined by a third member a Texan Ranger who also wants to track down the killer, a thug called Tom Chaney. It’s almost an “anti-buddy movie” as the three mismatched characters are forced to co operate and all endure their own tests. Do they all really have “True Grit”?
Well of course they do but that’s not the point of the film, on the face of it, it’s a quest, a journey, a hunt. The characters are allowed equal prominence to the plot making for a compelling piece of storytelling, not so much a remake but one of the currently in vogue “re imaginings” of the original. This is the latest movie from the Coen Brothers and it’s honestly one of their best efforts yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if it kick starts a revival and an updating of the whole western genre
A lot of this is down to the performers. Giving a fantastic performance that is bound to get her noticed is Hailee Steinfeld as Mattee, the vengeful 14 year old. She manages to more than hold her own on screen alongside Matt Damon who does his usual superb job (well, when he can be bothered to be superb) as LaBoeuf, the Ranger who joins the quest. However it’s Bridges who dominates the film. His Cogburn has a lot more depth than Wayne’s, a strength and a sense of a life lived, leading to an engaging world weariness. The Coens direct with equal strength and great style and the movie feels a lot more truthful to the book than the original film, and truthful also to the reality of those difficult wild times. Absolutely riveting throughout, go to see it because it’s a great retelling of a great story and prepare to be blown away by Bridges and Steinfeld.
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper