“Looking back is a bad habit,” as spoken by John Wayne, is a line from the original True Grit that stuck with me.
Wayne’s Oscar-winning performance, produced over 40 years ago, wasn’t much of a stretch for him, as he played cowboys throughout his career in Hollywood. For auteur filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, their new film, True Grit, isn’t based on John Wayne’s performance or even the original True Grit at all. It's a look back at the heart of the novel. A new telling of the tale, by which the Coens and their filmmaking team of talent already has Hollywood buzzing Oscar.
Academy eyes are liking the new “Grit” that they bring to the table.
Whether it’s the heart of the novel or the grittiness of the little girl that’s out to avenge her father’s death, there is a new actress in town and she is a California-born cowgirl named Hailee Steinfeld.
Steinfeld was selected from over 15,000 girls who auditioned for the role. The Coens assuredly got more than what they hoped for with her stunning performance. She solidly exudes the level-headedness of a modern day business woman and the tenacity of a bulldog. In two memorable scenes, she matches wits with a horse trader, gets the bargain, and maliciously outweighs the short commission that he had made on her slain father. In the second scene, she takes her horse across a river that Jeff Bridges’ and Matt Damon’s characters had taken a ferry across in order to elude her. These scenes win over the hearts of many because of Steinfeld’s onscreen wit and bravery.
Daily storyboards were provided to the cast, so they could settle into their roles, Damon said in an interview with Charlie Rose.
It was the first western for the Coens, with Bridges stepping in to play Wayne’s iconic role of Rooster Cogburn. Damon, starring in his first Coen brothers project, plays the role of Texas Ranger LeBoeuf, which was originally played by Glen Campbell. Rounding out the cast is Josh Brolin, playing the role of the murderous Tom Chaney. If you want to see a different type of movie from the Coens (a western?) , this could be it. Or if you just want to see a film where a determined youth has extreme character and heart, this is most definitely it.