Sunday, January 23, 2011

The FTT Movie Review: True Grit

Man Movie Night returned tonight as the Ninja and a couple of other True Wariers went to see the Coen Brothers latest. It's a good time, and proof, not that anyone really needs it, of the following two points.

1) When you cast a (fairly) unknown actor in a lead role (in this case, Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old female protagonist), it's almost always a win, provided the director is quality, and

2) Maybe this is just a place you get to when you are older, but damm, a Coen Brothers Western is just freaking beautiful to look at. Here, take a look at it.

Excellent dialogue and comic timing is rife in this, along with a gritty realism that's welcome. Mattie Ross, the protagonist, does not have Buffy-esque super powers, performs no great feats of shooting, and otherwise doesn't come off as anything but credible. The outlaws are not mustache-twirling evildoers, and the heroes are not paragons of virtue. Everyone is incredibly watchable, and the timing and pace never seems rushed or slack. Other than a final scene that I think the film could have been better without, I wouldn't hav changed a thing.

Jeff Bridges is flat-out brilliant in this movie as the one-eyed, drunken, overweight and abusive US marshall Rooster Cogburn, who takes a bounty job to bring the killer of a headstrong girl's father to justice. It's a relatively simple plot, like most Westerns, but it has a weight and momentum of any good Coens brother movie, especially since it's just so beautifully shot. See it on a good screen if you go, appreciate Matt Damon for not giving his Texas Ranger character a Boston accent, and plan on watching Steinfeld for the next 20 to 30 years.

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