True Grit

The Coen Brothers' decision to remake (remodel) the 1969 classic western True Grit seemed curious to me, but the smartness of the film's screenplay, the seamlessness of the cinematography and key performances testify to the Coens' gifts and vision as filmmakers. I loved it.

The story of the odd pairing of a young girl ...and a gristly lawman on the trail of the scoundrel who shot down the girl's father is intact but the language has been refashioned into something bordering on Shakespearean, like David Milch's HBO series Deadwood, without the unrelenting profanity. The script sparkles with intelligence -- as most Coen scripts do.

Hailee Steinfeld's performance as the aggrieved 14-year-old Mattie Ross has been highly praised and deservedly so. She's tremendous. A horse-trading scene between Steinfeld and veteran character actor Dakin Matthews near the beginning of the film is splendid and is an early indication of the quality of this young lady's performance. That Steinfeld's work and that of Coen fave Jeff Bridges (the Dude) as the aging and drunken marshal Rueben "Rooster" Cogburn and Matt Damon as the officious Texas Ranger LaBeouf (pronounced LaBeef) were ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globes) is curious indeed.

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