A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
What do Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Steven Spielberg, The Coen Brothers, Matt Damon, Roger Deakins, Carter Burwell have in common? “True Grit”, that’s what!
Not quite a remake of the John Wayne classic and not quite an adaptation of the book, 2010’s “True Grit”, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen is a slow-burning revenge tale about a manhunt lead by a young and admirably stubborn girl.
Total Film Magazine states the film “isn’t so much a remake as a masterful re-creation”; we see quite a lot of these nowadays, and I’m not complaining…
A modern day western with the heart of a classical era picture, “True Grit” is a masterclass of performances before it’s anything else.I usually wait until later on in the review to mention the actor’s efforts within a picture, but it must be noted early in this instance.
Jeff Bridges in superb, Matt Damon is brilliant, Josh Brolin is great (given his limited screen presence) and other supporting roles are enjoyable to watch. But the standout performance comes from Hailee Steinfeld who plays Mattie Ross, a determined and hardened young girl on the hunt for Tom Chaney (Brolin), a ruthless outlaw who killed her father.
Reading up on information regarding this film, I personally believe it is an outrage that Steinfeld was nominated for an OSCAR in the “Supporting Actress” category. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll agree that she is the central protagonist of the story, no question.
I understand that the logic could be that she had a greater chance of wining within the “Supporting” category, but it discredits her efforts in my eyes. She is outstanding in this film and should have been nominated for in “Leading Actress” category without a doubt.
Now, the story is relatively simple. As previously mentioned, Mattie Ross’ father is killed by Tom Chaney (Brolin), she then pursues the killer and seeks assistance from Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and Mr. LaBoeuf (Damon).
Just rounding off the main cast there makes the show-stealing performance of Steinfeld that much more impressive – these three men know what is involved in stealing the spotlight, but they are unable to do so due to Steinfeld’s efforts.
Also aforementioned is the fact that this is a slow-paced picture. It doesn’t have certain elements of recent modernised westerns; constant shootouts and brawls for example. These are definitely there in the picture, however, it’s predominantly about character exploration and growth that centres around the flawless chemistry of Damon, Bridges and Steinfeld fro the most part.
There is violence and a few of the sets are reminiscent of a previous Coen Bros. picture in “No Country For Old Men”.
What I mean by this is not just the setting of the picture. Arguably one of the most remarkable men in Hollywood, Roger Deakins is at the helm as the director of photography in “True Grit” and he proves time and time again that a good ‘looking’ film is essential.
This may sound obvious, but cinematography tells a story in itself. A film must look ‘good’ for it’s audience, that’s a given, but if you give it a sprinkle of Deakins magic, the film will be improved unmeasurably.
The wide shots of the desert and overall dampened colour pallet are reminiscent of “No Country For Old Men” which Deakins indeed worked on back in 2007. He has been the man behind several of the Coen Brothers’ pictures, and that added flare arguably makes their pictures what they are.
So, basically, the cinematography is sublime in every sense of the word.
A truly gritty and marvellous picture, “True Grit” is jam-packed full of perfect performances, stellar plot progression, excellent scriptwriting and an all-round Coen Brothers sheen.
It’s not a ludicrous picture like some of their classics, but it is in it’s own right, a unique film that pays ernest respects to the original source material and does it’s own thing at the same time.
Thanks to Jarryd Wells for the Recommendation