Joel and Ethan Coen
Arriving alone in Fort Smith, 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) has one goal in mind: track down the coward who killed her father. She needs the best man for the job. That man is Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a U.S. Marshal with a mouthful of whiskey-soaked marbles. Once pay is in place, Rooster agrees. Mattie, despite her insistence, is to stay behind. Maybe because she talks too much and doesn’t drink. She, precocious and eager little thing she is, comes along.
So, too, does LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger collecting a bounty on the same man, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Rooster and LaBoeuf come from different worlds and given the just amount of time, their pomposity shows. One of the more memorable moments in the film finds the two engaging in a wonderfully amusing and childish pissing contest that sees them firing their pistols at cornbread hurled into the air.
The truest chemistry onscreen, though, is between Bridges (who masters Rooster, first brought to screen by John Wayne) and Steinfeld, who give the characters a developed and touching--if inevitable--father/daughter bond.
This reviewer, like so many (not to mention her loving cast and directors), is more than pleased to single out Steinfeld as key. With a character that could have been done wrong so many ways, Steinfeld does an impeccable job crafting a true pistol, determined and cunning enough to do what she’s been forced to do.
The Coen bros.’ first western is somehow an original, despite being an adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel and mislabeled as a remake of the 1969 “Duke” film. That’s because it’s the new benchmark of the genre. It is visually and aurally flawless, with every aspect--Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh’s sets; Mary Zophres’ costumes; Roger Deakin’s atmosphere; Porits and the Coens’ dialogue--excelled. True Grit is the best of its genre of the new century.
From Hustles to Buckskin - Dressing for the 1880s (8:02): Costume designer Mary Zophers discusses her research and how that translated into the look of the costumes in the film. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Barry Pepper also appear.
Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western (4:41): Prop master Keith Walters sits down to chat about some of the reproduction guns used in the film. He also mentions how he used some details from Charles Portis’ novel that weren’t in the script to ensure more depth and authenticity.
Re-creating Fort Smith (11:20): This featurette goes into the work done to transform the small town of Granger, Texas into True Grit’s Fort Smith. Contributors include executive producer Robert Graf, production designer Jess Gonchor and supervising art director Christina Wilson.
The Cast (5:25): This short piece centers on the actors and their characters, with comments from Bridges, Damon, Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, and Pepper.
Charles Portis - The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Heard Of… (30:54): This loving tribute to Portis, who wrote the novel True Grit (labeled here as “The Great American Novel”), gathers 10 admirers, including various authors. The piece offers a glimpse into Portis’ life and work, detailing his days in journalism, his “non-pretentious” writing style and more.
The Cinematography of True Grit (2:57): Cinematographer Roger Deakin’s work is the focus here, with Deakins discussing his methods and a particularly memorable shot.
Also included is a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy.