Home > Movie Reviews > You display great poise: True Grit

You display great poise: True Grit

I have always liked the Coen Brothers.  They have a great sense of style, polishing their movies into smooth stones that roll along effortlessly.  “True Grit” is no exception: it is perhaps the best film I’ve seen so far this year, with really spectacular dialogue and acting.  The 1969 version starred John Wayne, who later won an Academy Award for his role; I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure this remake can quite easily hold its own as a fresh breath of quality in an otherwise frilly season.

“True Grit” tells the story of Mattie Ross, a fourteen year old girl out to avenge her father’s death.  She hires a US Marshall, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, in much different role than the one we saw in “Tron”), to track down her father’s killer and bring him to justice.  Matt Damon plays Texas Ranger named La Boeuf (like Shia La Boeuf but pronounced ‘LeBeef’), is also tracking the same man, to drag back to Texas for crimes committed there.  The three have wonderfully believable, dynamic relationships, and they are vividly portrayed by a great set of actors.

Hailee Steinfeld, who was only thirteen when shooting this debut film, steals the show.  Although the title is used to describe Cogburn, who is supposedly a “man of true grit,” it is Mattie Ross whose grit the audience falls in love with.  There is one great scene, where she singlehandedly barters an amazing deal against a shopkeeper – it’s filled with wonderfully written dialogue, and while complicated to describe, is just an example of the effort and care that went into this movie.  Mattie Ross is in an adventure amongst killers and robbers, but she never backs down; her grit is amazing, and I foresee a successful future for Steinfeld.

The other actors are similarly well cast.  Matt Damon, whose versatility as an actor never ceases to amaze me, gives us a complex La Boeuf whose changes in opinion feel genuine and natural.  Bridges, too, does an excellent job – his messy appearance and personality seem so real, and his relationship with Mattie does too.  The story itself is so smooth, with great setup and even greater development.  Everything is so well done, so refined!

Overall – 4.5/5; I’m not too familiar with the Western genre, not venturing further than “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” but I recognize a great film when I see one.  If there’s one film in the holiday season you go to the movie theatres for, make it this one!

Best regards,


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