If you�ve only latched onto a dozen or so truly great movies in your lifetime, you may want to add this summer�s blockbuster DVD �True Grit� to your short list.
Even if you don�t particularly like Westerns, you will be a fan within the first 15 minutes of this Joel and Ethan Coen brothers� remake of the 1969 film.
Breathing new life into an old story, the Coen brothers� brilliant film making of �Fargo,� �The Big Lebowski,� �O Brother, Where Art Thou?� and �No Country for Old Men� comes through once again. True to the Coen's unique approach to casting, the characters in �True Grit� are consistently authentic and oh, so rich.
The Coen brothers tell the story of a child, a marshal and ranger on a mission in pursuit of a murderer into Choctaw Indian territory. With pristine cinematography showcasing the wide open austere beauty of the post-Civil War West, the trio forms a perceptibly galvanized bond using true grit as the raw material. Slowly emerging in the film is their union, which goes beyond revenge to reveal the central theme � a deep, caring friendship.
Capturing your attention is young actress Hailee Steinfeld�s bold and deft portrayal of 14-year-old Mattie Ross. Heroine Mattie�s drive to seek justice is nothing less than captivating. Boldly leaving hearth and home alone on horseback, she courageously sets out to seek help in pursuit of the man who killed her father.
Jeff Bridge plays U.S. Marshal Reuben �Rooster� Cogburn, exercising a particularly edgy groveling with both Mattie and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, pronounced �LaBeef,� played by Matt Damon.
The only disconcerting notion in the film is Matt Damon�s supporting role. We are so used to seeing Damon in the lead we do double-takes straining to recognize him as the quiet cotton-mouthed LaBoeuf. With an accent that�s a cross between Cajun and Texan, Damon as Cogburn�s sidekick creates a healthy tension with Bridges and serves as a father-figure, albeit one who comes and goes, for Mattie.
Hardly audible and barely decipherable throughout, Bridges masterfully executes the Marshal�s story as though he himself has been reincarnated as the Rooster.
Possessing a rough and ready demeanor and tough self-assuredness, Mattie craftily uses long elocutions to hire Cogburn to bounty hunt her father�s killer. Commanding a masterful string of oratory, she talks the marshal and the Texas Ranger into allowing her to join them in the hunt.
At first left behind by Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie doesn�t let their bias against her inexperience and youth stop her. Crossing hills, dales and a river through scenic Fort Smith, AR, she rides them down on horseback and joins the posse of two, now three, as they all seek the same man for different murders.
Throughout the film, the Coen�s maintain Mattie�s rigidity, which never erodes in pursuit of villain Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin. Her unforgettable stalwart attitude is mainly due to bravado as tall as a mighty Sycamore tree in contrast to her pint-size stature.
On their way to an ultimate showdown with Chaney, Mattie, Cogburn and LaBoeuf rescue one another from what would be fatal scrapes with avengers, swap life stories and wryly humor one another. Bonding on the long trail ride, Mattie, Cogburn and LaBoeuf become an oddly cohesive family of sorts with loyalties as true as the wild blue yonder.
Based on a novel by Charles Portis, the modern-day remake of True Grit is more about relationships than revenge. Throughout the 110-minute drama, you will forget the pursuit and become consumed by the powerful shadows and hues established by the characters� connection.
Finally, there�s the manner in which the characters unforgettably deliver their lines. How should I say, poetic? No. Lyrical? Maybe. Reciting their parts with ballad-like limericks peppered with half-morose, half-witty tone and cadence, the three come across as not only carriers of justice, but eloquent orators of true grit.
This Coen brother�s DVD is a masterpiece you won�t want to miss.
2011 � Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.