- Running time:
- 110 minutes
- Jeff Bridges -
- Rooster Cogburn
- Matt Damon -
- Josh Brolin -
- Tom Chaney
- Barry Pepper -
- Lucky Ned Pepper
- Hailee Steinfeld -
- Mattie Ross
In the 1870s, headstrong 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) seeks a man with “true grit” to help avenge her father’s murder by tracking down the no good drifter (Josh Brolin) who pulled the trigger. Mattie finds what she needs in alcoholic U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), and the duo soon discover cocky Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon) is after the same mark for a different crime.
The buzz: The Coen brothers gave viewers a taste of their Western credentials with the Oscar-winning thriller “No Country for Old Men,” and now they’re upping the ante with a true trip to the Old West. It’s based on Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name, already made into a 1969 film that won John Wayne his only acting Oscar. Of course, since the Coens are serious filmmakers, no one wants to call this a remake. Whatever the label, “Grit” gives the Coens a chance to reunite with “The Big Lebowski” star Bridges, work with Damon for the first time and properly introduce Steinfeld to audiences in a scene-stealing role.
The verdict: Without ever bending the characters or story to fit their will, the Coens craft a handsome Western that fits comfortably within genre traditions and their own distinctive body of work. “Grit” has the sly humor, oddball bit players, sudden bursts of violence and peculiar interactions that Coen fans expect, but also enough shoot outs, horse riding, unruly behavior and cantankerous dialogue to please anyone starving for a Western fix. The cast is reliably solid, with Damon a standout as the vain braggart who ultimately proves his worth, and Steinfeld capably handling Mattie’s appealing determination. Where the Coens come up short, especially in comparison to the hokey but charming Henry Hathaway-directed Wayne vehicle, is in the story’s most essential area: the budding bond between Mattie and Rooster. “True Grit” ultimately depends more on these characters connecting than finding revenge, but the Coens’ emotional distance doesn’t entirely allow us to see their relationship blossom. When a crucial event forces the filmmakers to aim for the heartstrings, they overcompensate with futile results. That makes “True Grit” less resonant than it could be, but still a visually striking and unusual ride worth taking.
Did you know? The Coens let Bridges choose which eye to wear Rooster's eye-patch over. The actor picked his right, although he says it wasn't an intentional move to distance himself from Wayne, who wore his patch on the left as a tribute to director John Ford.
Movie theaters and showtimes for True Grit in Cincinnati.
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