'True Grit': Hailee Steinfeld Wows, What About Bridges?

Emily Abbate

True Grit. I can hear my father talking about it now. Classic Western. I know he'll try to sneak away this weekend ... but I kind of want to go too! I've heard so much about John Wayne — the man's man. And as the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 same-named novel, this film has a lot to live up to. The Coen Brothers' rendition follows a daughter's journey to find her father's killer.

So here's the question — why redo a perfect book-to-film adaptation?

Well, maybe because there are so many people out there who've never seen the first one! And lucky us, now we get to meet 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to this budding actress ... Santa's giving her some rave reviews.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone raves about her performance:

I don't know where the Coens found Steinfeld, 13, but her star-is-born performance is worth shouting about. Steinfeld excels at Mattie's Southern idioms, backed with Presbyterian steel. She's Huck Finn as a teen diva. 

Jeff Bridges, who plays Wayne's former character Rueben "Rooster" Cogburn, hasn't been as highly acclaimed. But let's be serious — can you blame the critics?

Wayne is a household name. When you think Westerns, you think of the film icon. So Bridges had some serious boots to fill, and Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine says he did an OK job, sort of:

Bridges can duplicate the grandeur of personality that was Wayne's birthright, but it's still counterfeit — more an acting job than a proud expression of self. Only toward the end, as Rooster fulfills a treacherous mission of mercy, does Bridges finally earn the role; and even here, he's out-acted by "Little Blackie," the horse he's riding. Is there an Oscar for Best Supporting Equine?

But aside from the acting specifics — there's clearly no denying that this is one of the best options for Christmas weekend. Roger Ebert puts it on a pedestal with some of the greatest films of its genre:

It is one of the most delightful, joyous scary movies of all time. It goes on the list with National Velvet and Robin Hood and The African Queen and Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Gunga Din. It is not a work of art, but it would be nearly as good if it were. Instead, it is the Western you should see if you only see one Western every three years (an act of denial I cannot quite comprehend in any case). 

And then there's Mr. Moviefone, who sums it up in two easy sentences.

A good old fashion western with big stars and the Coen brothers sensibility. True Grit is exactly what the country doctor ordered -- I'm in.

Will you be catching True Grit this holiday weekend?

Image via youtube

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