INTERN’S VIEW: ‘True Grit’ Is One Of The Best Westerns In Years


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by Philip Benais

True Grit; Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen: Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld and Barry Pepper.

The Coen Brothers have directed some of the most influential films of modern cinema and regardless of what you may think of any individual film of theirs it quickly becomes apparent they are a force to be reckoned with. Naturally when I saw the previews for True Grit, I was very excited. After all, The Coen Brothers are responsible for one of my Top Ten Favorite Films Of All Time. (The Big Lebowski, which becomes even funnier when you know that I am an ordained Dudeist Priest) The question then becomes, how does True Grit hold up? I’m happy to report that even as their most streamlined picture, it maintains the quirky humor and razor sharp dialogue they became famous for as well as giving us wonderful acting all across the board.

The film centers around Mattie Ross, (Hailee Steinfeld) a 14-year old girl whose father was murdered by a drifter named Tom Cheney. In order to get the justice she seeks for her father, she employs Deputy U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn. (Jeff Bridges) Cogburn is described to Mattie as having ‘true grit’, but when she attempts to hire him, he refuses. After much deliberation however, he concedes and Mattie, Cogburn and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) set out to apprehend Cheney. (Josh Brolin)

The best part of True Grit by far is the emphasis on dialogue. In an age where character and story have become expendable, it’s so welcoming to see talented actors and actresses making the expertly crafted dialogue come to life. Jeff Bridges astounds as Cogburn, giving us a character that is both nuanced and yet accessible. (The true sign of both excellent acting and writing) Matt Damon also continues his recent trend of quality performances, but the real surprise is Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. It’s very rare that not only such a young actress can dazzle us but in her first performance no less. Steinfeld is an actress with a very bright future and I can only say that I want to see more from her in the years to come.

True Grit is a picture that could have had a lot of things wrong with it; for one, it’s an adaptation which always has the potential to go south very fast and it is a very linear picture which may or may not work. In the hands of the production crew however, it becomes one of the best Westerns in years and a film I would recommend to movie lovers everywhere. If you’re in the market for something wonderful and intelligent, you can do a whole lot worse than True Grit.

Rating: ***** / *****

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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One Response to “INTERN’S VIEW: ‘True Grit’ Is One Of The Best Westerns In Years”
  1. Art T. Burton says:

    Check out the book, “Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves.” University of Nebraska Press. It is a biography of a deputy U.S. marshal who worked for the Fort Smith federal court, who had “True Grit.”

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