The Coen Brothers‘ moral and spiritual companion piece to No Country For Old Men is this adaptation of Charles Portis’ western novel, previously done as a slight yet much-beloved John Wayne vehicle back in 1969. Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a teenaged busybody whose father is gunned down by the coward Tom Chaney (No Country‘s Josh Brolin); she hires alcoholic U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, reunited with the Coens for the first time since The Big Lebowski), a man of renowned “true grit,” to track down the villain, a mission on which they’re accompanied by LaBeouf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger also on the hunt for Chaney. Like its predecessor, the new True Grit isn’t particularly anything special, but it’s a good yarn told with the Coens’ usual narrative skill and meticulous attention to detail; Bridges’ mannered but robust performance is also a lot of fun, with Brolin making for an amusingly buffoonish villain and Barry Pepper making for a surprisingly polite one as the notorious Lucky Ned Pepper. The real star of the show is Steinfeld, who’s rather astonishingly excellent as Mattie — why this Oscar-nominated young actress hasn’t appeared in another film since (it’s been over a year now) is quite the Hollywood mystery.
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