VOD film review: True Grit
Ivan Radford | On 07, Aug 2017
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
Watch True Grit (2010) online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalKTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / CHILI
Hats are brilliant. You’ve got to love hats. The Coen brothers learnt long ago that if you put a man in a hat, you get results. Miller’s Crossing had its fair share of hats. It was a straight-up masterpiece. And that was way back in 1990. But you know what? You’ve never really seen a hat until you’ve seen the hats in True Grit.
Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) is a hard-nosed, business-sorting, smart-talking woman. She knows what she wants (revenge for her dad’s death), she knows how to pay for it, and she ain’t afraid of holding a gun. She’s 14 years old. She also wears a hat.
Determined to hire depraved Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Bridges – wearing a hat), Mattie ends up with not one but two men on her side. Enter LaBoeuf (Damon – plus hat), a Texas Ranger with a sharp eye and even sharper nose for Cogburn’s drinking. Reaching an uneasy financial truce, they feud all the way across the plains in search of outlaw Tom Chaney (Brolin – no hat).
Framed with Roger Deakins’ flawless skill, True Grit is a gorgeous bit of film, which has some stonkingly good editing to boot. The cast look the part too, from Matt Damon’s facial hair to Jeff Bridges’ drunken swagger. Playing the part with more gravel than John Wayne’s boisterous hero, Bridges’ Cogburn is cantankerous and ruthless. Make no mistake: The Dude beats The Duke. It’s his eyepatch and he’s rocking it.
It helps that the roles are more generous than the 1969 original, allowing time for Damon’s ambitious soldier to shine. But the film belongs to Steinfeld, a frail figure with a firm jaw. Like Jennifer Lawrence’s Ree in Winter’s Bone, Mattie stands up to the brutal world around her, but gives events a moral heart that demands your total sympathy; there aren’t many girls who’ll drag a horse across a river, let alone ones who can quote the Bible while doing it.
Set squarely in the 1800s, the seamless production design equals the script, weaving an accomplished tapestry of loss, religion and justice. Playing out to the hymn Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, the result is as mature as Miller’s Crossing and as blackly comic as Fargo, with violence constantly simmering under the surface. The final shots of the starry sky are as poetic as cinema gets. Thought the Coens only had one Western in them after No Country for Old Men? Think again.
True Grit (2010) is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription until 17th August.