Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Jeff Bridges shines in gritty remake


“True Grit” by the Coen brothers (“Fargo,” “No Country for Old Men”) has brought us something that isn’t exactly a hot topic of our generation – a western. “No Country for Old Men” had the look and feel of a western, but was missing some major parts to fit it in the category. After testing the waters of the country style, the Coens decided to stick their noses in the dirt and make a full-fledged western. With it, the directing tandum brought a fresh feeling to cowboys and outlaws, and new advances in film made the violence more prominent.

Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a stubborn teenage girl, searches for the U.S. Marshall that bares the most “grit” to aid her in her quest to capture her father’s killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Ross finds Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a fat, old drunk that finds his bounty one way or another. After some bargaining, Cogburn accepts her proposal, but leaves on the job without Ross because he didn’t want to babysit.

Racing to the river, Ross finds Cogburn accompanied by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who’s also out for Chaney’s blood for his own purposes. Against their wishes, Ross joins the men on a treacherous journey into Indian Nation, where thieves and degenerates run wild. Cogburn and LaBoeuf butt heads along the way, as LaBoeuf’s morals and pride don’t mix so nicely with Rooster’s careless and lazy attitude.

It was a smart choice to modernize a dying genre like the western, but the movie of choice was a bold decision on the Coen’s part. “True Grit” is a remake of the John Wayne classic, which was an adaptation of a book of the same name by Charles Portis.

The Coen brothers needed to find someone to replace the legendary John Wayne in a role that brought him his first and only Academy Award. They came up with Bridges (“The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart”), who also has an Oscar under his belt. Bridges is the epitome of a western figure with that hard-nosed look. Even still, his performance was overshadowed by the performance of Steinfeld, an unknown 14-year-old actress who had only starred in TV series’ and made-for-TV movies.

“True Grit” was snubbed at the Golden Globes and wasn’t nominated for a single award. The Coen Brothers have been in the spot light for the past couple of years with nominations at a handful of different award shows for their work on “A Serious Man” and “No Country for Old Men.”

They could have contended for best drama or best director, but wouldn’t have stood a chance against “Black Swan” and “The Fighter.” Bridges fit the role perfectly and put Wayne to shame, and Steinfeld deserved to be nominated for best actress in a drama or at least best supporting actress. She mesmerized the audience in her role as Ross showing more grit than anyone else in the movie showed. She undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of her. The Golden Globes might have slighted “True Grit,” but the Oscars won’t be able to ignore the Coen brothers, Bridges, Steinfeld, Damon and Brolin.

Jake Hachey can be reached at [email protected].

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