¨You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.¨
At first sight fans of the Coen brothers might not recognize True Grit as one of their works since it is a bit different from most of their other movies. First of all they never made a remake before and True Grit is actually one which stared John Wayne back in 1969. Sometimes we have so much high expectations from the Two-Headed directors that we expect original work from them, but I have to admit that this film is really superior to the original and the Coen`s have made one of the best westerns of the decade. True Grit is based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Portis, and the Coen brothers did an excellent job with the adaptation of the screenplay. The language feels so real for the period the film is depicting (set in 1880) and it just adds to the authenticity of the story, along with the great performance from the entire cast. However in my opinion the highlight of the film is Roger Deakins`s beautiful cinematography. Deakins is a regular collaborator for the Coen brothers and he is definitely one of the best in the field. True Grit won`t rank among the Coen`s best work (it isn´t Fargo, The Big Lebowski, nor No Country for Old Men), but it is an excellent film nonetheless and I can`t judge this film solely on my high expectations for it. True Grit is an excellent and perfectly executed Western and it will stand out as one of the best among the genre.
The movie takes place in a small town in Arkansas where a 14 year girl named Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) narrates the story of how her father has been cowardly murdered by a thief who goes by the name of Tom Chaney (Josh Broslin). Mattie is not your typical teenager; she is very smart and mature beyond her years. She decides to hire a U.S. Marshall to help her catch the runaway fugitive across the Indian nations. The man she is looking for is Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a man who has proven over time to have ¨true grit¨, although he looks more like an old and wasted alcoholic. Together they decide to chase Chaney across the Indian nation. Chaney seems to be working with Lucky Ned Pepper`s (Barry Pepper) gang, and they seem to be hot on their trail. Rooster and Mattie are not alone in their chase however, as a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is along the ride with them. He is after Chaney for a crime he committed against a Texas Senator a few years back. Mattie wants Chaney to be brought back to justice in her town in Arkansas for murdering her father and doesn´t really want LaBoeuf to catch him and bring him back to Texas where he`ll die for killing a politician. The three of them form an unlikely bond on their pursuit of the fugitive.
The movie combines the right amount of action with comedy. You can tell Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges had a lot of fun with their roles, and they were great in this movie. Hailee Steinfeld had the most serious role as she played the uptight teenager, and she pulled it off really well. Her character actually did deliver some laughs due to her mature behavior. Steinfeld is the true star of this movie, although she has been considered for an Oscar in the Best Supporting category. There is no way she was a supporting character in True Grit; she had more screen time than anyone else in this movie and more than most of the actresses that are up for Best Lead Actress in the Oscars. I don´t know how she pulled it off, but she managed to outshine both Bridges and Damon in this movie, who were really great as well. True Grit received 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and I do agree with those nominations although I don`t think it will win many. If Deakins doesn`t win an Oscar for Best Cinematography then there is no justice in this world. It is just amazing. The film actually did really well in the Box Office, which isn`t usually very typical for a Coen brothers movie, but maybe Steven Spielberg`s involvement as the Executive Producer had something to do with that. I actually enjoyed True Grit and I can´t find anything negative to say about this movie. It is perfect even though it won`t live up to Joel and Ethan`s best work. True Grit is without a doubt one of the best films of the year.