Review – True Grit

Westerns are a hard nut to crack, like the dreaded ‘pirate film’ they’re treated as a genre that belongs in a museum rather than on the big screen. Luckily Joel and Ethan Coen decided to make a film that’s a ‘love letter’ to westerns and the result is ‘True Grit’. In ‘True Grit’ a young woman Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires a U.S Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track down the man that killed her father and bring him to justice. ‘True Grit’ is a loose remake of the 1969 John Wayne film of the same name with Wayne in the role of Rooster Cogburn. Directors Joel and Ethan Cohen have decided to stick to the source material with their remake (it’s based on a book) and what they deliver is a slow burn film that starts slow but picks up in the second half and ends way too soon. ‘True Grit’ is a perfect western but in no way is it a perfect film.

Jeff Bridges is on fire at the moment and is perfectly cast as Rooster Cogburn, a hardened drunk with enough Dutch courage and skill to take on army but with an even bigger heart to match. Matt Damon shows up playing a Texas Ranger along for the ride but he’s just there for comedic relief. Hailee Steinfeld is just plain annoying as Mattie Ross, there is a lot of hype around her after an Oscar nomination but to me it just feels like the academy is beating its chest over a young actress that can string a proper sentence together. I found her character unlikeable and more worthy of a bullet so I could enjoy the continuing adventures of the badass Rooster Cogburn. This becomes a huge problem throughout the film because Mattie Ross is the character that drives the films plot and you just can’t wait to see her being trampled by a horse.

The pacing of ‘True Grit’ is shocking, it’s a slow burn film but at times it puts you to sleep especially in the beginning and it takes a long time for it to get going and when it finally does it’s too little too late. A lot of the scenes early on in the film are drawn out and pointless in pushing the plot forward. I found the last 20 minutes of the film more engaging than the entire first half.

The Coen brothers have succeeded in creating a western that encompasses everything that’s great about the genre and have perfectly cast Jeff Bridges as one of the most memorable characters in Western history. On the other side of the coin you have one of the most annoying characters in western history; Mattie Ross. If the whole film played out like the last 20 minutes it would have been a triumph but it’s a half baked film.


The Popcorn Junkie