Let's cut to the chase. "True Grit" is one of the very best films of the year. Written and directed by the Coen Brothers, it takes a sharp offbeat turn on the basic elements of Hollywood cowboy movies. It's full of dark humor and snappy dialogue, but less strange than "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski" or "No Country For Old Men."
Jeff Bridges gives another bravura performance. He plays the one-eyed crusty lawman Rooster Cogburn, made famous in the original film by John Wayne. But Bridges adds another deep layer of grit and gravel to the whisky-drinking hero. His words ring true but his actions speak louder to reveal his rustic character.
Matt Damon plays a Texas Ranger on a mission to capture the same bad guy that Rooster is after. But little known actress Hailee Steinfeld steals the show as Mattie Ross. She's the 14-year-old girl with her own true grit who hires Rooster to chase down the man who killed her father. She is the pioneer woman who anchors the plot and rides herd on the rough-hewn men stalking each other.