Grit Expectations

I’m behind on moviegoing, let alone writing up reviews, but I saw True Grit on Saturday and like everyone else I was blown away by Hailee Steinfeld.

Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn looking at Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross

Grit was adapted by writer/directors Joel & Ethan Coen from Charles Portis’ 1968 novel, previously translated to the big screen in 1969. While this edition might not be
an outright classic, it’s good enough to recommend if only to experience Steinfeld more than holding her own against the likes of Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and — playing Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne’s role in the earlier version — Jeff Bridges. The most impressive thing about Steinfeld’s Mattie Ross may be that she isn’t just stoic, determined, and wise beyond her years; in unguarded moments of affection for her horse or disbelief over the lack of morality in the world, we also see laughter, tears, and naiveté that are inescapably age-appropriate, grounding the character in believability. Kudos to the Coens for their part in eliciting that performance and for working with cinematographer Roger Deakins, a frequent collaborator, to convey the environment
so vividly.

I felt more detached from the epilogue than I wanted to be, and perhaps more than
the filmmakers meant for me to be. That way lie spoilers, however. I’m not averse to picking up the conversation in the comments, but I won’t get to half of what’s on my plate unless I learn to keep some posts short.

Still from True Grit © 2010 Paramount Pictures.

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