The Coen Brothers TRUE GRIT is a “Marvel!”
The Coen Brother's TRUE GRIT is here. We're excited. You're excited. My girlfriend's father is excited. And so are the critics. Just as the Coen Brothers' previous Western, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, drove critics wild and earned the brother team numerous awards, so too does this film about a 14 year-old girl's revenge adventure bring in the laurels.
J Hoberman of the Village Voice calls it "a highly enjoyable yarn, stocked with pungent bushwa and a full panoply of frontier bozos." That pretty much sums it up. First of all, it looks fantastic. As Indiewire's Eric Kohn describes, it's "visually scrumptious...a cinematic marvel that evokes the dreamy western iconography most commonly associated with John Ford." This is as much the Coen Brothers as it is the magnificent cinematography of Roger Deakins. Roger Ebert goes farther: "The cinematography by Roger Deakins reminds us of the glory that was, and can still be, the Western."
It's also a tour de force of acting power. The general consensus among critics is that Jeff Bridges should be elected to some high political office for his take on Rooster Cogburn, a role originally done by John Wayne. Bridges here is truer to the original source material and, by all accounts, a better embodiment of this character than Wayne. And he's not the only great performer here. Matt Damon plays Bridges' foil, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, with humongous comic charm. According to Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, "he's a great costar here, flavoring his LaBoeuf — pronounced La Beef, if you please — with a piquant seasoning of Ranger vanity, bounty-hunting avarice, and Dudley Do-Right earnestness."
"The big names in the cast all do excellent work," writes Kenneth Turan in the LA Times, "but the biggest surprise is all but unknown Steinfeld." Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie, the young girl whose story this film really is. She is plucky, tough, hilarious, and admirable here - and this is her first significant role! David Edelstein in New York Magazine describes her styles as "Gatling-gun delivery," and I think that is the most apt metaphor for this wonderful wit and screen presence.
The one concern continually brought up about TRUE GRIT is its potential non-Coen-ness. Some critics suggest that the film is too straight a Western, and that their style, which we've all come to love so dearly, is strangely absent. Roger Ebert's got an answer to that, and I think it's worth quoting at length:
This isn't a Coen Brothers film in the sense that we usually use those words. It's not eccentric, quirky, wry or flaky. It's as if these two men, who have devised some of the most original films of our time, reached a point where they decided to coast on the sheer pleasure of good old straightforward artistry. This is like Iggy Pop singing “My Funny Valentine,” which he does very well. So let me praise it for what it is, a splendid Western. The Coens having demonstrated their mastery of many notes, including many not heard before, now show they can play in tune.
Come check out TRUE GRIT this extended Holiday weekend. It's a film that everyone can enjoy.
Get your tickets for TRUE GRIT: Now Playing at Lamar, Village and Lake CreekOh, and did you see Mondo's stunning poster for the film?