2010 PG-13 110 minutes
Deadwood, On HBO, was a big favorite of mine. It seemed to me that other than the fact that the cadences were Shakespeare-like and that the use of profanity was a bit overdone, the show had a better handle on what the real “Wild-West”was really like.
Possibly I am completely wrong but I get the sense that the directors (and screenwriters) of True Grit, Ethan and Joel Coen, probably watched the HBO series as well. In any case it reminded me strongly of that now defunct cable-only series.
Pretty tough act to follow, John Wayne. The original True Grit (released in 1969) won him an Oscar (his only one!) and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the drunken, loutish U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn. Glen Campbell as his sidekick? Yikes! But it worked.
Jeff Bridges also works. I like Bridges very much, have ever since his role in Starman for which the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA gave him a Saturn in 1984. He is on a roll lately with high profile jobs here and in the Tron sequel. He is perfect for Rooster Cogburn and gives a performance worthy of his nomination for an Oscar this year.
Matt Damon. Hmmm. Probably just as good as Glen Campbell in the supporting role of LaBoeuf, whose name is never fully revealed. He is OK in the role, and to be fair it was probably written stiff, unsympathetic and cigar store wooden. he only did as he was told.
But the true standout is Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. In her first major featured role she has an Academy nod already and she deserves it. She has already won a bunch of awards for the role. The camera just loves her and where a more experienced actor like Damon gave the material no insight, Steinfeld inhabits the words, strikes back at the deadly, prose-like dialogue and comes off a winner.
As for the screenplay/direction by Messer’s Coen. The is NOT No Country for Old Men and that’s a good thing. It does earn a PG but would it have been a better film if they pushed it to “R”? Nope. The gross ($171,031,347 (USA) (24 April 2011) bears that out.