It’s time for some horseback riding, gun shootin’, mumbling bad-asses in the Coen Brothers most un-Coen Brothers-like film True Grit starring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper. One thing is for sure, if you can understand what they’re saying in this film, you’ll be a fan — but that won’t be easy for ya now, ya hear? Check out our review…

The Players:

  • Directors/Writers: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • Novel By: Charles Portis
  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper
  • Score By: Carter Burwell
  • Cinematography by: Roger Deakins

The Plot:

Based on the Charles Portis novel of the same name, True Grit follows a tough U.S. Marshal as he helps a stubborn young girl track down her father’s murderer.

The Good:

  • The Writing: Even though this is not one of my favorite scripts from the Coens, it’s still miles beyond the majority of screenplays today. Not only are they good at writing amazing one liners, but they’re also able to apply them to the screen extremely well. It’s a good thing they direct their own screenplays because it takes a very interesting mind to understand the complexities and depths of their writing.
  • Moments of Quiet: The Coen’s biggest strength lies is in what they let go unsaid. This film is extremely sparse, and aside from a few drunken rants and a sassy young girl, the only time the characters really talk is when they have something to say. Though this sounds like an obvious thing, a lot of films have so much unneeded dialogue, it’s nice to see one where every line has its place.
  • The Writing AGAIN: What is also amazing about their writing is how they create a new language for every film they make. Whether it’s Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading or True Grit, all their characters have a very distinct way of speaking which transports you into a different world and forces you to pay attention so you can be a part of it.
  • The Acting: Another reason why the dialogue sounds so good is because of the performances in this film. Though Jeff and Hailee are the stars of the show and rightly so, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and the rest of the cast all put in amazing performances. There literally are no small parts in a Coen Brothers movie and much like their text, every actor has a right to be there.
  • The Mumbling: You won’t be able to understand every line in this film, so don’t bother leaning over to your significant other and ruining the movie with “what did he just say?” The mumbling is part of it and you’ll come around to it and their way of speaking in time.
  • The Richness/The Silence: This is not a cliched Hollywood film in ANY way. They’re going to make you wait for the pay off and then change it up on you. They’re going to leave you in silence and they’re going to force you to watch a film that though it is entertaining was not created for entertainment’s sake. It’s a bold move, but well executed.
  • The Humor: You have many directors trying to make comedies, but despite what genre the Coen’s play in, their films always have a sense of humor that is undeniably funny and more realistic than any comedy routine. This film is no exception, and despite it’s serious tone it will most definitely have you laughing — and sometimes you won’t even know why. They don’t even need a punch line, their timing is so good that it does the work for them.

The Bad:

  • Horse Violence: I get that it goes with the story, it’s accurate to the character, but damn is it hard to watch.
  • The Snakes: Though I loved the scene and how it began, without giving anything away, the truth of the matter is that it was a rather inaccurate way for snakes to behave.


Not necessarily the brother’s finest work, but for me they always deliver something far superior than almost everything else in theaters. Don’t miss this bad boy.

Rating: 8.5/10

True Grit hits theaters December 22nd.

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Will you be seeing True Grit over the holiday weekend?