Well, this is an interesting one. Only because my Dad is a huge John Wayne fan so I have seen the 1969 version of this film more times than I can remember, and the iconic firing-two-guns-while-controlling-horse-with-reins-in-teeth scene is a particularly vivid memory. So although I had heard really, really good things about this film, and had seen quite few clips as part of the whole Oscars thing, I approached this with a wee bit of trepidation.

I needn’t have worried; this True Grit is magnificent.

It looks absolutely wonderful, much more authentic than many other Westerns (but that seems to be the trend now anyway) and was beautifully shot; there’s a scene of a night ride which is especially wonderful and moving. It benefits from returning to the source novel; the dialogue is brilliant to listen to.

The acting is also of a really high standard:

  • Hailee Steinfeld is a talent to watch, I think we can expect great things from her in the future;
  • Josh Brolin is brooding and quite scary as the villain;
  • Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges are both excellent, the latter becoming craggier with each year that passes.

It’s just wonderful, a real masterpiece, and I say that as one who can take or leave Westerns – after a childhood dominated by them I went off the genre in a big way with only some old favourites (Gunfight at the OK Corral) and a few good modern ones (Silverado, Tombstone) considered worth my time. However, the Book God is a huge Western fan so I do get the chance to have a look every so often and there are a couple of interesting ones sitting on the to-be-watched pile.

So final verdict is that this elegiac film should probably have won best picture; serious words from someone who loved The King’s Speech.

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