Pros: Acting, visuals, old-fashioned style.
Cons: Western aspect may be a bit much for some, violent, pacing.
True Grit. A movie that I immediately wanted to see after seeing the trailer, for a number of reasons. I generally love the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan), and I thought the story mixed in with the Western charm looked pretty unique. I can easily say that I was not disappointed. The story was unique and powerful, the acting was really well-done, and it was definitely crafted like an old western. It was, in my opinion, not without it's flaws; but all in all I really enjoyed the film and though the Coen brothers did a fantastic job with it.
The story is a fairly simple tale of revenge, told in an old-fashioned, classic western style. Basically, Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld) is a very mature 14-year old girl. Her father was killed by an outlaw of sorts, Tom Cheny; and she wants nothing more but to avenge her father's death. She is very intelligent, stubborn, and most of all: mature. She does an absolutely EXCELLENT job with this character.
Anyways, of course (it being the wild west) she needs to contact a bounty hunter. She receives word that Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). is the best bounty hunter of all, and we get the sense that he is really rough and tumble, sort of a mess kind of guy. She tracks him down, and gets his services. It isn't easy doing that.
What is even HARDER for her to do is convincing him to let her tag along with him! Think about it: the wild west; a dangerous time filled with evil people. A young girl tagging along with a hardened bounty hunter who is going on a dangerous, bloody mission! Knowing how tough/elusive he is, and wanting to arrest him because of a crime committed against a texas senator, a texas ranger: LaBeouf (played by Matt Damon), tags along as well.
The plot isn't extremely intricate by any means, in fact; it is fairly simplistic. However, it is enjoyable to watch it unravel, and a lot of it is unpredictable. It is also interesting to see Mattie's interactions with both LaBeouf and Cogburn. While Mattie and Cogburn sort of have conflicting personalities: Mattie being a stern, determined girl and Cogburn being sort of a bummy yet tough bounty hunter, they immediately seem to work together as partners. It is interesting to see how the relationships build over time, and the character development was pretty well-done.
Visually, this film is incredible. Not only is there stellar cinematography, meticulous costume design, and incredible scenery: but there are so many little touches that get you more into the "wild west" spirit. The film feels like you are watching an old western, which is easy to mess up and make tacky. That was not an issue with this film. Everything was very well done.
However, I was a bit SHOCKED at how much this resembled a classic western. From the (almost inaudible) way they talk, to the music, to the narrative style and dialogue: this film is a western. The Coen brothers really didn't put a "modern twist" on it. It is a downright western. However, there was a certain addition to the film that made it far more enjoyable: humor.
This film was quite funny at times. It was generally in the dialogue where a certain joke was made or a certain subtle moment that just makes you laugh, which is a good way to balance out the gritty (pun!) western violence. Which is another thing about this film that the viewers should be aware of: violence.
I was completely shocked at the amount of (mostly on-screen), bloody violence that this film had (and it is PG-13). I personally have no problem with violence is films, but from all of the PG-13 movies I've seen, this is by far the most violent. Just be aware that even though this film isn't rated R, if you are sensitive to violence, you should take caution with this one.
While the majority of this film is enjoyable, it isn't without it's cons. First of all, I was surprised at how (almost over the top) the western style of the film was. I wasn't expecting it to be this old-fashioned, at that was just slightly off-putting. Aside from that, the pacing is a little uneven. It goes from slow, to slightly faster, to action packed, to slower. However, these are only minor gripes that barely take away from this film's excellence.
Oscars? I think so. I think that Jeff Bridges (who received the Oscar last year) will most likely receive a nomination for Best Actor. He was really great with this rough and tumble sort of character, and he did a great job. I think Best Picture would be a bit of a stretch, but I can see it being a nominee for Best Screenplay considering it's consistently well-written Western style. Best Costume Design would be likely as well.
In addition to Jeff Bridges excellent acting, Hailee Steinfeld really shines as the young lead. This is her first ever feature film, and she did an absolutely great job. Matt Damon was only okay in his role as LaBeouf, and he definitely paled in comparison to the other stars in this film.
Overall, True Grit is a great film. It is an interesting story well-told in an old fashioned western form, filled with great acting, stellar visuals, and other cool aspects. While it has it's flaws, this is still a film that I highly recommend. 4-stars.