For once the Coen brothers played it according to all the rules of commercial cinema, and no wonder they did it as the producer of True Grit is no other than Steven Spielberg. The film went out in time for the Christmas week (in the US) and for the Oscar season, and the result is 10 nominations including the one for the Best Movie, although I am not sure it will eventually get that many (it certainly deserves the one for the cinematography – the camera work is exquisite). It is also probably the most mainstream film the Coen brothers have ever made, so mainstream that I had all over the feeling that a twist in the action may happen, or a there are some hidden underground meanings that I am missing. Yet, the director brothers chose to do a very well made version of a novel adaptation already brought to screen in 1969 by Henry Hathaway with John Wayne in the main role, a classical Western with many moments of good cinema. Not little thing, just less surprising that I would have expected from them.


Much of this story of pursuit and revenge in Texas and the Indian country relies on the actors. Jeff Bridges melts in the role of marshal Cogburn, a drunken but effective and heart-opened man of law. Hailee Steinfeld is the 14 years old girl whose coming into age is destined to be spent searching for justice in Wild West and her role has all the chances to launch a great career. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin act fine in the two supporting roles that fill in the human landscape of the film. They all do a fine job, and some beautifully written dialogs help in the way – watch the one of the bargaining of the young girl with the man that had a dept with her late father and remember it – or maybe you need not as film anthologies will help you do it in case you forget.

(video source ClevverMovies)

As in many classical Westerns the landscape and the rendering of the atmosphere of the wild country in the second half of the 19th century America play a central role. As I already said the camera work is wonderful, and it creates the right setting for this very credible story of human solidarity. I do not like many of the post action epilogues in movies, especially when told with the off screen voice of the heroes quoting from the original book (so it seems) but here it fits movingly, but this is again the combination of the image and words that enhance the human feelings. Surprises may be missing but True Grit is a piece of true (and good) cinema.