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True Grit

Sept 2nd       T
he Coen Brothers                USA  2010                 Certificate 15

After hired hand Tom Chaney kills her farmer father and flees, indomitable 14 year old Mattie Ross hires tough, one-eyed US Marshal and heavy drinking reprobate Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn – a man with “true grit” – to bring him in.  Joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf, the odd posse head into Indian territory on their manhunt.  Terrific: tough, exciting, funny, gorgeous and bewitchingly acted, this is darn close to perfection.


As usual with the Coens, they somehow manage to deliver a movie than belong to both the actors and the directors. Picking a pitfall-strewn path between picaresque sentimentality and random acts of brutal violence, the sensibility underlying this revenge quest is characteristically Coen-brothers-esque (Coenish? Coenian? Coenvillian?). And yet it's also their most crowd-pleasing film in some time, painted in broader brushstrokes than A Serious Man and coming on less relentlessly bleak than No Country for Old Men.

You sense that they savour the opportunity to recreate the saddle-sore, sun-squinting aesthetics of the Western quite as much as they relished homaging the look of film noir in their slightly overlooked slice of 2001 brilliance The Man Who Wasn't There. It's the type of film that makes you want to rush out and (re)acquaint yourself with all the must-sees of the gun-slingers and rattlesnakes genre. True Grit probably doesn't herald a return to the days the Westerns were a permanent fixture of the local multiplex any more than O Brother Where Are Thou precipitated a rush to commission 1930s Deep South musicals based on Greek mythology, but it might remind a few folk why they used to be so popular.