Suggestion. Try, and it will be a challenge, not to compare the 1969 version starring the iconic John Wayne, Kim Darby and Glen Campbell. If you succeed you will be thoroughly engrossed, entertained by this Coen brothers remake.
Jeff Bridges gives a regal performance as the cantankerous, curmudgeon Ruben “Rooster” Cogburn; a lawman of “true grit” but unconventional methods, hired by fourteen- year -old Mattie Ross (prodigiously played by Heilee Steinfeld) to avenge her father’s murder.
Resting in the sacrosanct archives of film history are a plethora of child performances that solidified the deserved, eternal devotion of the movie: Margaret O’ Brien, “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Natalie Wood, “Miracle on 34th Street”, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, “National Velvet”, Tatum O’ Neal, “Paper Moon”, Haley Joel Osmet, “The Sixth Sense”, Macaulay Culkin, “Home Alone”. I could create a manifesto lauding Judy Garland (“Wizard of Oz”); Jodi Foster (“Taxi Driver”) Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”); Drew Barrymore, Dakota and Elle Fanning, have shown genius in some good, and some mediocre films. Keep your eye on Max Records the star of the 2009 “Where the Wild Things Are”. As of 2010 none have brushed the magnetisms of Shirley Temple; she is the goddess, the muse of “darling”, “divine”, “cute”; her films through the ages have maintained their luster, their magic.
If this 2010 version of “True Grit” gains admission to this sanctified, rarefied category, Heilee Steinfeld holds the key; she is the core, focus, power and strength of every frame. Her dignity, intelligence, keen sense of vengeance and justice pulsates in her every word and movement. She is Mattie, the avenging angel, in possession of what she sees in Rooster Cogburn, true grit. How succinctly refreshing to listen to perfect, almost biblical diction. What a gift she sheds upon the viewer.
Jeff Bridges is in his prime and imbues Rooster with the unblemished combination of guile, guts, gravitas, grit.
Matt Damon as the didactic Mr.LaBoeuf, a moral Texas Ranger, balances the temperaments of Mattie and Rooster; a noble, solid, sensitive portrayal.
Josh Brolin is the deleterious, murderer, Tom Chaney; his crime, the reason for the quest is of major magnitude; his screen time unfortunately, miniscule.
“True Grit” is a beautiful story, gloriously filmed, inspirationally acted; a Western, a genre, not universally embraced but worthy of………..