Gritty, tough, dark and occasionally humorous, this story of frontier justice is one of the year’s best films. It’s also a worthy followup for Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges to his “Crazy Heart” turn.
He’s perfectly matched with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who plays young Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old who arrives in post-Civil War Arkansas to find someone to hunt down her father’s killer. She settles on U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Bridges). They team up with a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) which he pronounces la-Beef. They’re all seeking the same man for different murders and the hunt takes them into Choctaw Territory.
The final 20 minutes of the movie is a string of well-choreographed and suspenseful scenes, right up to the climax of the action. Yet the actual action in the film is almost secondary to the developing relationship between Cogburn and Mattie, as they ride together through the wilderness.
If anything, Bridges’ performance is even tastier and more pungent than the one in “Crazy Heart.” He’s got a wonderful foil in young Steinfeld – and finds his comic match in Damon, who brings a certain prissiness to LaBoeuf that’s perfect for this role.
“True Grit” is superb, one of the best movies of the year and one that shows other filmmakers just how a western should be made.
* * * * * 5 Stars (Out of 5)
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