Charles Portis's wonderful comic novel True Grit
(1968) had the combined fortune and misfortune of being instantly made into a John Wayne western, which won the star his first Oscar and ultimately eclipsed the book. This remake by Joel and Ethan Coen is being positioned as a truer True Grit
, and though they take their own liberties with the plot and tone, they preserve Portis's impeccably authentic dialogue, which does more to conjure up the Arkansas of the 1870s than any period trappings. They've also returned the focus to Portis's poker-faced narrator, a prim, judgmental 14-year-old girl (newcomer Hailee Steinfeld) who hires the drunken, one-eyed U.S. marshal Rooster Cogburn to track down her father's killer. Jeff Bridges manages to wrest Cogburn away from Wayne, who made the character a repository for his own screen legend, and Matt Damon is funny as Cogburn's disgruntled trail partner, a self-glorifying Texas Ranger. With Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper.
See our full review:
The Coens reclaim Charles Portis's comic novel for its teenage heroine.