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Saturday, 19 February 2011

Film: True Grit

The Coen brothers re-adaption of True Grit fails to not impress. The genre (western) would make many want to fall asleep however True Grit proves fun and compassionate. It is a travelling tale of vengeance and proves thrilling throughout.

The movie narrated by the adult Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfield),  plays out the story of her childhood. As the eldest child in her family she has come to sort her murdered fathers affairs and bring his killer to justice. She inquires at the undertakers upon who would be the best Marshal to assist her and is given numerous options .  She is a feisty and witty child who presents much control over her elders.Proving a skilled business woman and persuasive, she convinces the local business man to re-purchase and compensate her father's property, due to the murderer Tom Chaney making off with her father's horse placed into his care.

Spending her second night in the local boarding house she awakens to Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) with a proposition for her. He proposes that he attempt Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), as he been doing so for numerous months and bring him to justice for a separate murder within Texas. He suggests she still convinces Cogburn to assist her as his local knowledge and brash exterior will prove useful.  Mattie disregards the proposal and wishes Chaney to hang for her father's murder specifically. With money now in her pocket, Mattie makes a successful attempt of gaining the support of U.S Marshal Reuben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). On instruction she awaits for him the following morning so that they may depart, on arrival she discovers a note telling her to return home and leave him to his duty.

To her dismay she sets off towards the river and seeks passage on the ferry, on refusal she crosses, clutched to her swimming horse. Safely on the other side she continues with persistence.  On discovery that the two men have arranged an alternative agreement, Mattie threatens to have the Marshal arrested for fraud. After an uneasy scene of disciplining by LaBoeuf the Marshal sends him on his way reluctantly letting Mattie accompany him. The pair come across an isolated shack inhabited by two outlaws and enter. The Marshal begins his tactics and tries to subdue them, eventually turning one against the other and leaving them both wounded and near death. The younger informs the Marshall that the notorious gang led by “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper) should be arriving later in the evening. On belief that Chaney accompanies the ruffians Mattie and the Marshall await their arrival.

However, to their disadvantage LaBoeuf rears his head. Upon the gangs arrival he is lassoed and Cogburn opens fire upon the unsuspecting party, killing three members and wounding LaBoeuf. That night the trio rest while Cogburn drowns some non-existent sorrows, offending the Ranger and causing him to depart once more.

Mattie wakes early and begins preparations. As she collects water from a nearby stream she comes across her foe Chaney. She demands her fathers remaining California gold piece and clutching to his pistol takes aim, catching Chaney’s shoulder but misfiring the killing shot. Chaney captures Mattie and returns her to Ned Pepper’s gang, where she is proclaimed as their hostage. He tells Cogburn to depart immediately or Mattie’s life will be cut short, as he leaves hastily Ned does also, leaving Mattie in Chaney’s care. Chaney opposes the plan, as the gang attempt to locate a new hideout but Ned disregards his exclamations, stating there is few horses and he must not harm Mattie.

As they are left alone, Chaney assaults Mattie attempting to silence her. LaBoeuf springs from the cliff-face and knocks Chaney out cold. He explains that on hearing shots, he adamantly returned and came across the Marshal whom he schemed a plan for rescue with. Atop the cliff Mattie and Laboeuf watch the Marshall upon the plain below. The encounter between the gang and the Marshal unfolds rapidly with an impressive shoot out sequence. Two gang members are shot dead and another flees, leaving leader Ned in direct contact with the Marshall. The Marshals horse is shot from under him and as it lands heavily upon him. Ned takes his aim and is shot dead by LaBoeuf from a distance. A crack is heard upon LaBoeuf’s skull and he topples in a slump, Mattie grabs his rifle and takes a finally successful aim. The force sends her flying back into a deep mineshaft, swarmed by rattlesnakes. In her struggle Mattie is bitten, Cogburns rescue attempt is swift and he sucks the poison from her wound.

Knowing she is near death, Cogburn in appreciation dismisses LaBoeuf and assures he will send help. Hastily he makes his way to a doctor. The duo ride through the night in a beautiful and picturesque sequence on horseback. As Matties horse falters, Cogburn makes a paternal attempt to save her. He picks up her weak and dying body and sprints onwards.

We cut to a scene twenty-five years later. Where the narrator is now prominent. The adult Mattie now concludes her story. The ending is unexpected and leaves a saddened audience. The rough U.S Marshall is now admirable and the estranged LaBoeuf is finally at peace on completion of his quest. On reflection this quest explores revenge, love of individuals and the best of the wild west.

The critically acclaimed True Grit is currently in cinemas nationwide. Do not avoid this merely on a genre basis, you will be pleasantly surprised by its individual appeal and suitability.

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