Part of the beauty of True Grit is in how simple the story is – a girl on a mission to avenge her father’s death. Without discounting the original novel’s writing, the film’s mastery is in its screen delivery, which makes it a gem; the Coen brothers’ attention to details, setups and camera shots, choice of characters, music, pacing and alike. The cast is terrific including Jeff Bridges, completely at ease in his role as the one-eyed, merciless, mumbling Deputy U.S. Marshal, hired to track down the killer. Matt Damon shines with his perfect timing and subtlety. As with many other Coen brothers films, violence is very graphic, but is an integral part of the way the story is being moved forward. Hailee Steinfeld in the role of the avenging daughter, plays her part perfectly.
As in many of their films, the Coens have a way of keeping the viewer remote from the protagonist. We care about the hero or heroine but we do not get involved. I personally tend to favor making the audience more involved, but do have an appreciation as to the Coens’ mastery in their preferred approach. Another note to make is that the film, though enjoying plenty of comical moments, is an action-packed drama. It does not fall into the pit of the dramedy, but rather holds its course with correct pacing of comic relief when needed. What is also striking about True Grit is how the story, as depicted in the film (closely adapted from the novel) touches many points without interpreting or making declarations; topics such as trust, revenge and compassion. It puts the viewers who want to go beyond the story’s surface, in the driver’s seat in terms of drawing their own conclusions. The Coens, whose talent as filmmakers remains potent, give hope that not all has gone wrong in the film industry.
True Grit is a true instant Western Classic.