The Coens’ continue their march towards becoming the modern day Hitchcockian blowhards they so desire. Gone are features brimming with utter originality and taking its place seem to be a spate of remakes and reliance on films assumed viewed during the Brothers’ collective childhood. Now, none of that necessarily makes for a lackluster effort, but there’s not too great a likelyhood that something like Millers Crossing or the Big Lebowski is ever going to be produced again.
That remains a bummer, but at least True Grit sports a pre-pubescent girl as its star. That’s kinda weird for middle aged dudes from Minnesota, right? Well, even if it’s not, it’ll have to do. What’s interesting, though, is the Brother’s ability to write for leading female characters. Granted, Hailee Steinfeld’s fourteen year old Mattie Ross character doesn’t act, sound or conduct business the way a kid would, but that’s partially the point.
Mattie’s extraordinary and is dealing with an extraordinary situation.
What winds up being the hook for True Grit is Mattie’s relationship with Jeff Bridges Rooster Cogburn character. The Deputy is pretty much what anyone could imagine John Wayne or Clint Eastwood portraying in the situation and continues Bridges’ march towards utter mastery of just about any and every filmic convention conceived to date. Playing a souse and a stoner probably isn’t too different, but pulling off each is not just entertaining to watch in various situations, but points to the Coens’ ability to draw in talented folks.
Unfortunately, the unique dialogue crafted in the Brothers’ early works is all but gone at this point. Made up turns of phrase are pretty much absent in True Grit even if a Western dialect and auld tyme sayings replace it all – kinda.
It’s no surprise, though, that a feature detailing a young girl’s pursuit of her father’s murderer was well received by critics. And while the film’s clearly put together in a thoughtful and Coen-esque manner, heading back to the pair’s earlier works – and no, that doesn’t mean No Country for Old Men – would probably wind up being not just more entertaining, but also a richer form of entertainment. Seriously.