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True Grit

Year: 2010
Studio: Paramount
Director: Joel Coen/Ethan Coen
Producer: Joel Coen/Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel Coen/Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Stanfield, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper

As I write this review I haven't seen the original True Grit, and that's okay because the Coen brothers haven't either. After the blistering success of their last film No Country For Old Men, they've gone in an interesting direction doing a very straight western that's reverent of the genre and (I presume) the original book it's based on.

Being the Coens I was expecting something a lot more dense and lyrical, but the biggest surprise it that's it's much more a crowd pleaser than they usually make, complete with a couple of laughs, a lean running time and a strong narrative.

Jeff Bridges takes John Wayne's role as Rooster Cogburn, the grizzled US Marshall who gets a request from the precocious, wise and determined teenager Mattie (Steinfeld). She wants him to track down and shoot the varmint who murdered her father and she won't take no for an answer. The pair go off into the wilds to hunt the killer down, joined by Matt Damon as a Texas Ranger who's also after the wanted man.

Mattie's pluck and courage gradually eases the way for her to enter everyone's heart and she will yours too, making her a fun juxtaposition amid all the angry old cowboys.

She has the lions' share of scenes and nearly outshines Bridges as Cogburn, but his visibility is quickly cornering the market for him in rough-hewn oldsters, versions of his signature character The Dude who's just at home in the digital world of TRON: Legacy as the wild Midwest on horseback.

The Coens have proven they can do just about any genre and now they've made mincemeat out of the Western too. I can't say it's essential viewing if you loved the original, but it certainly is if you love Westerns.

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