Thursday, 24 February 2011

REVIEW: True Grit

Fill your hand you son of a bitch.

I think in the last 5 years or so, The Coen Brothers have really set out to distinguish themselves as directors. On the face of it, I'm sure that sounds as stupid as fuck, leading to many sudden responses along the lines of... Of course the Coen Brothers are good directors, fucktard. Maybe for your next piece of wondrous insight, you could say Rafael Nadal is good at Tennis, or Julianne Moore is good at being ginger? But what I mean is that before this, even with their best films, all people paid attention to would be the writing. Yet by taking to adaptations, they've shown that they don't rely on their own words to be great film-makers. But with No Country For Old men and now True Grit, they have a great and unique value that goes beyond merely being great screenwriters, which they also undoubtedly are.

True Grit, for lack of a better expression, is a fucking movie. It looks stunning, its fantastically performed, and it somehow feels a throwback and a modern work at the same time. If it's not quite in the Coen Brothers Hall Of Fame, its comfortable second tier. Any problems lie with the source material, and perhaps some false advertising on the part of the trailer. Watching that, one would expect the most badass western of badass westerns, but what we have here is a road movie and a character piece. The crux of this movie is people talking to each other, and the chemistry between its three leads, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld. Jeff Bridges, who is probably much more of a chameleon then people give him credit for, inhabits the gruff, alcoholic Rooster Cogburn well, both a believable badass and appropriately pathetic, and gives a performance much more interestng then I was led to believe. But newcomer Hailee Steinfeld undoubtedly walks away with it, taking the Coen-tinged period dialogue and delivering every line with such a precise energy that hearing her say even the most mundane things is entertaining. The strongest scene in the piece is simply her haggling with a business associate of her dead father's, because simply watching Steinfeld talk is the strongest weapon the film has.

I'd also like to credit Damon, who manages to do a lot with a potentially problematic character, and supporting players Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin are also good value. It's not No Country For Old Men though, and the argument against it perhaps is its slightness. There's not a terrible amount of stuff going on here, outside of the revenge motif and the journey. What you see is what you get, and that will disappoint some people. But its an entertaining and intelligent ride with some of the best performances you'll see all year so, if that makes it a lesser Coen Brothers movie then damn. Its still pretty fucking good.

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

Antonionioni said...

I'm off to see this tonight - having seen the old True Grit staring John Wayne, at Christmas.