Westerns do not seem to be as popular as they once were. Not many films try to capture the old western, gritty, dirty feel that John Wayne and Clint Eastwood captured back in the day. Thankfully True Grit decides to bring back this once forgotten film genre and does an interesting job resurrecting it. I was fairly interested in the film but what caught me was the cast of Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon so, I took what I had in my wallet and made my way to a Regal Cinemas theater and paid the eleven dollars and hoped for the best.
While I had not been a big fan of westerns, the genre did intrigue me. The savage, gun slinging, outlaw culture of westerns are dark and intense and very unique compared to other film genres. The plot of the film follows a determined, fourteen year old girl, played by Hailee Steinfeld, in search of her fathers killer out west. She concludes that she cannot find the killer alone without the help of some type of law enforcement so, she decides to employ Rooster Cogburn a U.S. marshal played by the great Jeff Bridges. While that may sound good, Cogburn is an old, fat, eye patch wearing drunk who is losing his touch and no longer the almost invincible gunslinger he once was. Along with the help of Matt Damon who plays LaBoeuf, a Texas ranger on hunt for the same man, they embark on a journey through the dangerous western environment. The pace of the film is relatively slow, especially in the beginning. I found myself losing interest in the plot quickly in the first thirty minutes of the film and paying attention more to the authenticity of the film environment and set pieces. It does pick up a little halfway through the film but, doesn’t really get suspenseful until the very end. The end also has a problem of closure in which we only find out what happens to Mattie and Cogburn but, have no idea what happens to the Texas ranger, LaBouef.
I have to admit that I went into this film hoping for a good amount of old spaghetti style action but, I was disappointed. It had a small amount of action and seemed the main attraction of the film was the great script and great acting by Damon and Bridges. As well as the occasional comedic moments, one moment in particular where Cogburn is drunk and is trying to show his gun skills by shooting a whiskey bottle in midair, you know what they say fourth time’s the charm. From a Western film point of view True Grit is not an amazing film but, as a drama with a great script and original characters I would not be surprised if it wins an Oscar. Roger Ebert said in his review “I expect Bridges and Steinfeld have good chances of winning Oscar nominations for this film.” While I do agree with that I don’t agree with his three and a half out of four star rating. I would rate it a three on a one to five scale. It’s a good average film with a great script and a good escape from our daily lives but, not a film I’ll be re-watching more than once. I feel that my eleven dollars were well spent for two hours of good film making.