19 February 2011

Film Review: True Grit [dir. Ethan & Joel Coen; 2010]

I'm not a great fan of westerns, but what I do appreciate is a good story, well told. That's why the Coen brothers' version of True Grit gets a firm thumbs up from me. By toning down their characteristic quirkiness, they've made room for the elegant simplicity of the plot, which sees a 14-year old girl hiring a drunken marshall to avenge the murder of her father in 19th century America. The performances are almost faultless - Hailee Steinfeld is astonishingly self-assured as the precocious Mattie Ross - Roger Deakins' cinematography brings the landscape to life with memorable potency and the dialogue oozes crafty wit. Yes, the hype surrounding the movie is perhaps excessive, but then hype often is. It may not turn out to be year's most important release, but True Grit is a solid, skillfully-crafted piece of intelligent entertainment that treats its audience with respect and adds another entry on the increasingly fascinating list of Coen movies concerned with the collapse of moral codes and the unreliability of traditional authority figures.

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