I'm not one that goes out of his way to watch Westerns. In fact I try and avoid Westerns most of the time. As a cinephile, I hate missing out on any genre, but I do have my preferences.
I think the closest I came to really liking a movie that might have a feel of a Western was No Country For Old Men. Surprisingly enough, True Grit just happens to be a film made by the same directors, Ethan and Joel Coen. Although I had been avoiding True Grit for the longest time, I finally gave in, and I sure am glad.
I've almost always enjoyed the work of the Coen brothers and as a result I have often favored their style of direction. This film is no different in that it captures the slow pace of a western quite well, but still manages to be interesting. The rugged terrain of the "wild west" is brought about beautifully adding substance to the story and almost proving to be a supporting character in the film.
The film is about Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a young girl, who hires a drunk US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to find the killer of her father. En route they encounter LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger, who has a agenda of his own and is after the same killer as Mattie.
Jeff Bridges gives a pretty great performance, but overall I could not help but imagine the Dude being reincarnated as a drunk US Marshal and ending up in this film. Moreover, the accent at times was so strong that not having watched the film with subtitles, all I could get was mumbles. It didn't take away from the enjoyment of the film, but nevertheless it was something that bothered me on instance.
Matt Damon as LaBoeuf failed to leave an impact. He carried his role, but throughout the film it felt odd, a bit out of place. The awkwardness might have just worked because here was a Texas Ranger who is in a new town making new acquaintances to capture a killer he has been following for a while, but although I like Matt Damon as an actor he did not do justice to the role.
Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin have limited roles, but they shine in their respective parts. The surprise of the entire film, the breakthrough performance, the act that not only made the film for me, but also made me recommend it to others is Hailee Steinfeld's Mattie Ross. Hailee Steinfeld carries the entire film on her back, and considering that she is in the company of movie legends like Jeff Bridges, it means a lot. Determined, witty, stubborn, unafraid, Mattie Ross is a girl with a mission, one that she will complete at any cost, and Hailee manages to tap into that persona with all her gusto to give a performance of a lifetime.
True Grit is a great film that stands out for a commendable performance by its lead actress.