Written by Joel and Ethan, based on True Grit by Charles Portis; directed by Ethan and Joel; produced by Joel and Ethan
In the post-Civil War Wild West, 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires one-eyed US Marshall Rooster Cogburn to hunt down the man who killed her father…
Seen before? No.
Best performance: Hailee Steinfeld is just brilliant as the headstrong, smart and astute Mattie.
Coen regulars (running total of appearances): Jeff Bridges (2) is having great fun playing Cogburn, while Josh Brolin (2) plays Tom Chaney, the man they’re looking for. JK Simmons (3) has a voice-only cameo.
Best bit: Our first sight of murderer Chaney.
Review: As full-blooded in its commitment to a genre (here, the Western) as, say, Blood Simple or Miller’s Crossing were. But this is more successful because as well as conventions it has conviction. There’s real heart to this movie. We get clear storytelling, playfully elaborate dialogue, interesting characters, good performances and stunning production design – and unlike in the last two Coen movies, we also have an emotionally satisfying ending. The best one in this watch-through since O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Nine half-bitten-off tongues out of 10.