Directors: Joel Coen/Ethan Coen, USA
What a pair: The foulmouthed and boozing, one-eyed U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is on the road – or rather out in the wild – together with the self-assured, set-minded teenager Mattie Ross (excellently performed by the newcomer Hailee Steinfeld). She has a mission. Her dad was shot by the Indian coward Tom Chaney. She wants justice. The killer must pay, meaning she has to find him first. Mattie is only 14 years old and needed a “partner” to track him down in this harsh winter of 1872. The clean looking, newly-appointed Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) also wants Chaney but not Mattie to trail along. Rooster and LaBoeuf team up together and try to shake off the girl. They did not reckon with her stubborn determination. Grudgingly the growling Rooster accepts to help her. And help she needs when by chance, and totally unprepared, she stumbles upon the brutal Chaney on the bank of the river.
The directors Joel and Ethan Coen adapted Charles Porti’s classic novel which was first published in 1968. The solid cast, including Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned and Bruce Green as Harold Parmalee, the detail of set and décor, and particularly the sophisticated cinematography of Roger Deakins make for an enjoyable cinema experience. The movie was nominated for 10 Oscars.
True Grit was already filmed by Henry Hathaway in 1969 which brought John Wayne an Oscar. The Coen brothers make it clear that their film is not a “remake” but that they kept the script closely to the original book. The very successful novel is now a set book for American literature to be read at high schools.