[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=6813&w=l[/img]Title: True Grit
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
Directed by: The Coen Brothers (Ethan & Joel Coen)
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen (Screenplay), Charles Portis (Novel)
Runtime: 109 min
Release Date: 6/7/2011 (Blu-Ray)
True Grit arrived in theaters just before Christmas 2010 to great critical acclaim - while no one denied the quality of the Coen brothers previous film No Country For Old Men, very few expected them to produce a film that was even better. Against all expectations, True Grit is better than No Country For Old Men, in fact, in this reviewer's opinion, it is better than the original film it is based upon starring John Wayne. The storytelling in this film is superb, and is topped with oscar worthy performances from an ensemble cast with many big names, and a new name to keep your eye on. Sadly, the box art for True Grit omits Hailee Steinfeld's name in favor of Josh Brolin - who has much less screen time than Steinfeld. Regardless of this fact, Steinfeld's performance is right on par with the masterful performances of Damon and Bridges who both raise their craft to a new level.
True Grit is a wonderfully engrossing story that is told with the perfect balance of dialogue and masterful cinematography. Unlike the majority of current releases which focus on fluff, cheap laughs and CGI to keep viewers watching, True Grit never wavers in tone nor pace - the film tells a story and it does so extremely well.
Spoiler content below.
Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a young fourteen year old girl who has travelled from her home in Yell County to Fort Smith, Arkansas to manage the affairs of her father after his tragic murder at the hands of Tom Chaney (Brolin). Mattie arrives in Fort Smith expecting justice to be served and a manhunt to be launched for Chaney, unfortunately she finds just the opposite. Chaney sits at the bottom of a long list of outlaws and murderers that have run from the law. Convinced that her father's killer will not be brought to justice by conventional means, Mattie proceeds to browbeat a local businessman who had dealings with her father into giving her a sizable sum of money in return for property lost to her. She then takes some of this money and beings to search for an individual she can hire to track down and capture Chaney. After asking around, Mattie learns that a US Marshall named "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges) may be the man for the job, as he is a man of unwavering principles, and though he is taken to drinking, he is a man of "True Grit".
When Mattie attempts to speak to Cogburn he repeatedly rebuffs her and avoids contact. After some time, Mattie manages to track him down and offers him $50 on top of his government reward for bringing Chaney to justice. Cogburn doesn't believe that she has the money and refuses. That evening, Mattie meets a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Damon) smoking on the porch. The following morning, LaBoeuf is in her room when she wakes and offers to team up with her and Cogburn in the pursuit of Chaney as he has been pursuing him for several months after murdering a Senator in Texas. LaBoeuf argues that while Cogburn is familiar with the Choctaw Indian Nation where Chaney is hiding, he is more familiar with the patterns and behavior of their quarry. Mattie refuses LaBoeuf and offers Cogburn $100, which he reluctantly accepts, telling her to meet him the following morning. When Mattie arrives at the appointed time and place to meet Cogburn, he has left her a note with a train ticket home, and an assurance he will return with Chaney.
Mattie races toward the river that demarcates the start of the Indian Nation, and sees Cogburn and LaBoeuf on the other side. When she demands passage from the ferry man, he refuses and tries to lead her horse to town. Mattie manages to get away and gallops her horse into the river, guiding him as he swims her accross. After some argument, Mattie is finally able to join the pair as they proceed. The following morning Mattie learns that Cogburn and LaBoeuf have another arrangement where Chaney is concerned and demands that she be told the nature of it as her agreement antedates theirs. When she learns that Cogburn had agreed to bring Chaney to justice in Texas and split the reward with LaBoeuf, she is upset and demands that Cogburn terminate his agreement with LaBoeuf as she wants Chaney brought to justice in Arkansas, and not Texas.
Cogburn ends his agreement with LaBoeuf and they split up, leaving just Mattie and Cogburn. Over the next several days of travel Mattie and Cogburn travel deeper into the Choctaw Indian Nation until finally late in the evening they try to enter a hunting cabin for shelter only to find it occupied. It turns out that the cabin is occupied by two henchmen of Lucky Ned Pepper, the outlaw and gang leader they suspect Tom Chaney has taken up with. After some threatening from Cogburn, the younger of the two henchmen begins to talk and is murdered by his compatriot. Cogburn proceeds to shoot the other in the head, and asks the dying young man where Ned Pepper and his gang are hiding. The dying man tells Cogburn that they are going to arrive at that very cabin in a short period of time for a meal and rest. As he prepares to die, the young man begs Cogburn to inform his brother of his death and ensure he's properly buried.
Cogburn takes Mattie and encamps on a hill overlooking the cabin, hoping to ambush the gang as they arrive. Unfortunately, LaBoeuf arrives before the gang does and is accosted by them as they arrive, tied to the back of a horse and dragged in circles. Cogburn begins to pick off the outlaws using his carbine and they begin to run for it - the rider of the horse dragging LaBoeuf is killed and he is left lying in the dirt moaning. When Mattie and Rooster reach LaBoeuf he has been shot clean through the shoulder (by Cogburn apparently) and has nearly bitten off his tongue - after some ill-spirited complaining by Cogburn, the trio proceed indoors to get some rest. The following morning the trio begins their search in earnest for the gang, but only after Rooster manages to purloin many bottles of Whiskey and stay up most of the night drinking.
The drunk and misanthropic Cogburn gets into another series of arguments with LaBoeuf over the next day and night and eventually LaBoeuf makes way to leave, informing Mattie that he may have misjudged her and he wishes her the best. The following morning Mattie makes her way to a nearby river to get water only to find Tom Chaney on the other side doing the same thing. He begins to approach her and she pulls out her late father's pistol - telling Chaney that he is coming with her. Chaney takes another step and Mattie fires, hitting Chaney in a rib but not mortally injuring him. He grabs Mattie and drags her back the Ned Pepper and his gang.
Ned interrogates Mattie to find out why she is here in the first place and finds the whole thing rather amusing. Being a man of few principles, Ned Pepper uses Mattie as a hostage to force Cogburn to leave and then leaves her in Chaney's care as he and the gang head out to rendezvous with others. Chaney disobeys Ned and tries to kill Mattie as soon as the gang is gone, but at the last moment is knocked unconscious by LaBoeuf, who explains that he heard gunshots and came as fast as he could. LaBoeuf and Mattie watch as on the plain below Cogburn faces off with Lucky Ned Pepper and his three man posse. Cogburn is able to kill all of Ned's henchmen but loses his horse and is pinned beneath it. Ned approaches to finish Cogburn off but LaBoeuf is able to make a shot from 400 yards shooting Ned through the heart.
Chaney awakes and attacks LaBoeuf, hitting him in the head with a rock. A desperate Mattie grabs the rifle and shoots Chaney in the chest, knocking him off the cliff while simultaneously knocking herself backwards into a crevasse. As Mattie struggles to right herself, she awakens a nest of rattlesnakes and screams for help. Cogburn arrives and begins to shoot the snakes, but not before Mattie is bitten in the hand. Cogburn sucks the venom from her hand, and rides day and night on her horse to get her back to town - eventually shooting her exhausted horse before carrying her himself the rest of the way.
Twenty five years later, a forty year-old Mattie with one arm is looking at a flyer from Cogburn, asking her to meet him at a Wild West show. When she arrives, Mattie learns that Cogburn died three days earlier. Being her typical stubborn self, Mattie has Cogburn's body exhumed and moved to her farm, where she can visit his grave regularly. The film ends with Mattie standing over the grave of "Rooster" Cogburn, wondering at the nature of time and how quickly it moves. She wonders whether LaBoeuf ever settled down in Texas, and adds that if he happens to be alive, she would not be opposed to seeing him. Fin.
True Grit is rated PG-13 for sequences of western violence and disturbing images.
The video transfer of this film is spectacular. There is an exceptional level of detail and clarity present throughout that gives the video a very crisp feel. Whether it's suede, canvas, skin, hair, wood or leather textures are gorgeously detailed and look absolutely natural. Lighting in the film is excellent and throughout we have excellent color reproduction with very bright outdoor shots and warm indoor shots. There is an extremely fine pattern of grain present that shows no signs of tampering or any defects - this is a pristine transfer from a pristine film reel. Each and every component of the picture is top notch - black levels are consistent and without crush with plenty of excellent shadow detail. While this doesn't have that "surreal" picture quality to it that a true reference title does, it's about as close as you can get and I can't help giving it anything but :5stars: as :4.5stars: seems like a slight.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack of True Grit is nuanced, delicate and artfully crafted. Atmospheric effects dominate this mix as swirling wind and dust, grass moving and the creak of leather and clothing immerse the viewer in the environment of the old West. Dialogue is crisp and clear with no veiling or intelligibility issues. In the few fire fights during the film, the staccato pops of gunshots and the deeper reports of Carbine rifles are beautifully reproduced and aren't bottom heavy as many gun shot effects are these days. Carter Burwell's score is perfectly matched with the content and plays an important but subtle role in the storytelling. This is an excellent (if understated) mix that will sound great at all volume levels and while it may not soar to the dynamic levels that many action films do today, this is a demonstration of good judgement on the part of the mixer in my opinion. Overall this is a superb mix that truly impresses from start to finish. As demo material I would rank this as a :4star: release, but for fidelity, this is easily a reference title.
True Grit isn't too heavy on the extras, but the assorted extras are in HD and do convey some useful information, if not quite as much as fans might desire.
- Mattie’s True Grit [HD]
- From Bustles to Buckskin—Dressing for the 1880s [HD]
- Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western [HD]
- Re-Creating Fort Smith [HD]
- The Cast [HD]
- Charles Portis—The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Heard Of… [HD]
- The Cinematography of True Grit [HD]
- Theatrical Trailer [HD]
- Digital Copy
True Grit is a beautiful film that is superbly told - the imagery and atmosphere that the Coen Brothers evoke is as truly western as one could hope for. The cast from Steinfeld to Bridges to Damon is superb, and elevates this film to another level entirely. The audio visual elements of this release are excellent and stand apart in their own right - especially appealing to those who don't require bombastic in your face demo material from every film they watch. True Grit brings modern day Hollywood back to the true "film making" that they have always been known for, and further establishes the Coen brothers as excellent filmmakers and writers. Whether you want to watch some of the finest acting seen in recent memory from an excellent cast, or simply enjoy a good Western the like of which hasn't been made in recent memory True Grit is well worth your time and money. Highly Recommended.