True Grit | Indy Week

True Grit

Rated PG-13 110 min. 2010

The Coen brothers conspicuously craft their 2010 updated adaptation of Charles Portis' novel—originally released on film in 1969 with John Wayne as the star—as a traditional Western set during the twilight of the Old West. Between an opening scene that features an arrival by railway and an epilogue in which icons of the era are relegated to fodder for a traveling road show is a story line about duty and honor driven not by men on horseback but a headstrong 14-year-old girl. After her dad is gunned down by a drifter named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), Mattie Ross (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) takes the train to Fort Smith, Ark., to tend to her father's affair. Mattie hires the irascible, drunk and one-eyed federal marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track down and capture Chaney. There is one strict condition: She must accompany him for the hunt. Although the film is constructed like a conventional Western, the Coen Bros. pointedly eschew the romanticizing often applied in this genre. Money—not principle—is the primary motivation for Cogburn and LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a preening, bounty-chasing Texas Ranger. This is also one of the few Westerns to succeed without a formidable and/ or charismatic villain. Instead, True Grit focuses on three individuals who—as they traverse untamed terrain captured by Roger Deakins' usual sumptuous lens—ascertain the true nature of one another's character.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Charles Portis

Producer: Scott Rudin Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and Hailee Steinfeld

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