True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010)
  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Drama | Western
  • Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Cast: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon


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.


  • True Grit is one of the better western movies that I have seen. The film flaunts the entitled attitude of the 14 year old girl who had lost her father to a man named Tom Chaney. She ceaselessly strives to see him captured and hung. Although the story focuses on a quest for revenge, it really captures the beauty in unlikely friendships. As Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn head into Indian Territory, the movie shows the struggles of how life was in their day. The movie accurately displays how quickly a child must become an adult while a blooming friendship forms through a common enemy, and also shows how far determination can get you.

    Up until around the 1950’s, there were only children and adults. Today most 14 year olds are just entering high school and aren’t even expected to get a job for at least another 2 or 3 years. The responsibility that Mattie Ross carried (besides avenging her father’s death) was expected of many children her age. For example, in the movie she confronted a man she wanted to bargain with, which she did persuasively. On top of that she threatened many times to use the force of her lawyer to several people. Those are only a couple of examples that were shown in the movie. Another real-life example would be doing house chores. Chores that kids are expected to do now are more trivial than they were back then because most people had to tend to their own farms and hand wash clothes.

    Mattie Ross’ actions were coated with intensity which probably came from her anger towards Tom Chaney. The movie really focuses on her bravery and will power which is what makes the story great. Mattie was very unique for her age and time, not even a well-known bandit scared her away. Determination is a quality that everyone should strive for, and everyone has some within them. I think that’s why the movie is touching because most people want the kind of strength that she has.

    One aspect of the story that I especially liked was Rooster and Mattie’s relationship. In the movie, they talk a good amount while they travel to the Indian Territory. You can see by what Rooster says to Mattie that he started to feel comfortable with her. He was open enough to talk to her about his ex-wives and other personal things. I think there is probably more behind their friendship in the book. For example, the book would probably explain his thought process when he came to her rescue while being held by Tom Chaney. The scene where he sucked the poison out of her snake-bitten hand was another example of what he would do for her. The best moment to express their relationship was in the end when he rode his horse to death then carried her to safety so that she wouldn’t die.

    Overall, I liked this movie despite it being a genre I don’t usually care for. There was a decent balance of action and content which doesn’t happen very often with western movies. It was interesting to see how America was once upon a time and look at the differences between then and now. The movie was inspiring which makes it something that I would watch again. What made it inspirational was how such a young girl was so driven and surpassed everyone’s expectations.

  • After taking the philosophical path with the confounding but brilliant A Serious Man (2009), the Coens are back with a more mainstream picture, a remake of the film that landed the legendary John Wayne his only acting Oscar. More faithful to the novel by Charles Portis, then Henry Hathaway’s iconic Western, the Coens’ True Grit is a potent and well-executed film, not necessarily one of the brothers’ best works, but still a film to be appreciated as a nostalgic Western with a big heart, which is quite an anomaly in today’s cinema, and very much an eye-opening experience for many of us.

    Jeff Bridges plays Reuben Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall who is employed by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a vocal, determined 14-year old girl to help her to find the person who murdered her father. That person is Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Coincidentally, Chaney is also pursued by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who wants him for the murder of a senator in Texas, and the money that comes from capturing him. The trio of Cogburn, Ross, and LaBoeuf become the key characters of which most of the narrative is centered upon.

    What is most distinct in True Grit is its picturesque cinematography. The Academy has owed Roger Deakins an Oscar for a long time, and this is the best chance to reward the nine-time nominee. The framing and composition of shots are amazing, always focused on the characters, but never losing sight of the hostile environment that threatens to bury them. Carter Burwell’s mournful score begins the film, immediately accentuating the setting, and foreshadows the events that would unfold later. These events unfold with logic and clarity, and are carefully set-up to milk as much suspense and drama as it is possible.

    Even though the film is a straight genre exercise for the Coens, True Grit not only reminds us of the brothers’ extraordinary gift for writing clever dialogue, but also their trademark marrying of grim situations with offbeat humor. However, most of the film’s narrative is structured in such a way that the average viewer could follow easily, and this might not please Coen diehards who would have expected the duo to somewhat reinvent the genre, given their penchant for twisting generic fare. Even then, this film version of Portis’ novel is still the definitive one, with better characterizations (especially of its supporting characters), and a more beautiful cinematography to boot.

    True Grit features two strong performances in Bridges and Steinfeld. Both of them steal the screen whenever they are on, to the extent of leaving Damon and Brolin (who are only above-average here) in the shadows. Fresh from his Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart (2009), Bridges gives another towering display of the art of acting while under the influence of alcohol, most notably in the scene where he comically attempts to prove to Damon’s character that he is an ace shooter.

    The lack of action may be a sore point for some viewers, but I applaud the Coens’ decision to concentrate primarily on the friendship between Cogburn and Ross as this would have strong bearing on the film’s subtle, almost stylized final act, which is as poignant as it is lovingly envisioned by two of American cinema’s most treasured artists.

    GRADE: A- (8.5/10)

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