Steinfeld is ballsy young teen Mattie Ross, who turns up in ramshackle town in the late 1800s looking to see the man who mugged, then murdered her father brought to justice. There she pursues a lawman she is told has real 'true grit' to help capture he fathers assailant - Jeff Bridges US Marshall Rooster Cogburn. After finally convincing him to work for her, they are joined by Matt Damon's buffoonish Texas Ranger who is in pursuit of the same man for a different crime. Together, they set off on the hunt for the criminal through some hazardous terrain.
An ensemble piece at its core, Bridges may ostensibly be the lead here, but it's Steinfeld who really carries the film - rarely off screen and delivering narration when she is. Her character is in many ways the quintessential heroine; strong-willed, smart and the proprietor of an acerbic mouth that just might get her in trouble before the film ends. Bridges laconic, mumbled delivery is the perfect antithesis to Steinfeld's articulate ramblings. While Damon's purpose is to be the comic relief and he duly obliges with a very funny supporting turn. After being introduced ominously, he's soon made clear to be a moron.
In terms of tone, and establishing a canvas where actors can really thrive, no one can touch the Coens. True Grit really shouldn't be funny given its penchant for violence and concoction of gruff characters - but it is, gleefully so. Brolin's on-the-run convict is introduced at the perfect time, giving the film urgency just as it becomes sweet, and pushing it towards a hugely entertaining final twenty minutes.
After the sombre moody atmospherics of No Country For Old Men, the Coen's prove again that their talents are as eclectic as they are brilliant. Few other films in recent memory have managed to deliver drama, comedy and shootouts in such a balanced, organic way. Save for an unneeded epilogue, this is absolutely cracking stuff.
Story by Mike Sheridan | 09:00 | Tuesday 31st May 2011 | DVD review
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