Based on Charles Portis’s novel of the same name, True Grit is not only a great Western but a great film in general. Even people who don’t usually enjoy movies in that genre will likely find that watching True Grit is 110 minutes well spent. Screenwriters/directors Ethan and Joel Coen have crafted an engaging, entertaining movie that simultaneously feels like an old-fashioned Western and a modern take on the genre.
Focusing more on the three protagonists’ adventurous journey than on the ultimate payoff, the story is straightforward and features no complicated plot twists. The simple narrative allows for plenty of time for character development and drama, which the filmmakers make the most of. Moments of witty humor, suspense, and sudden bursts of violence energize the proceedings. Believe it or not, but some of the highlights of the film are conversations, filled as they are with delightful lines of dialogue.
Thanks to Roger Deakins’s refined and very atmospheric cinematography, the movie looks absolutely gorgeous in a subdued way. Just watch how elegantly Deakins captures everything from the desolate landscape to falling snowflakes and the star-studded night sky.
Jeff Bridges is perfectly cast as Rooster Cogburn; he has the face and behavior of a man who possesses the kind of knowledge that only comes from the experience of living a hard life. While Matt Damon may not be an obvious choice for a part in a Western film, he slips into the role of LaBoeuf comfortably and makes it his own. In a small but good role, Josh Brolin plays Tom Chaney. However, the real star of True Grit is arguably the young Hailee Steinfeld, who delivers a commanding performance as Mattie Ross and who carries much of the movie on her shoulders with impressive aplomb.