The Dude abides - cowboy styles

22:23, Feb 03 2011

Sure Jeff Bridges was pretty darn good as a washed-up country singer in Crazy Heart. It was definitely time to give the man an Oscar. But in True Grit he's soooo much better.

Even if you're not usually a Coen brothers fan, go see it. If you're a fan of Westerns, definitely go see it!

Taking on the eye-patched role made famous by John Wayne back in 1969, Bridges plays US marshall Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers new (yet old-fangled) film, True Grit. The Dude has been replaced by The Duke.

The cast is cram-packed with talent, including Matt Damon as the smug Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, and Josh Brolin (who last collaborated with the Coen's on their modern Western No Country For Old Men) as the baddie, yet it's an unknown 14-year-old girl who steals practically every scene she's in. And she's in nearly every scene.

Hailee Steinfeld in her Oscar-nominated big screen debut holds her own among distinguished company. She plays Mattie Ross - Tom Chaney (Brolin) shot her poppa, and now she's determined to hunt him down and bring him to justice.

The only one who manages to grab your attention from her stirling performance is the Dude himself. He's got an accent thicker than treacle, but pay attention because he's got a way with words (even if they are hard to decipher at times). While this is a fairly macho, oaty drama on horseback, with plenty of gunslinging, ambushing, and the odd touch of violence (they sure string corpses high in these parts... and gosh, don't fingers slice off easily in the 1870s?) I would love to recommend this film to impressionable young women, as Mattie is one of those great characters. It's only M-rated, after all...

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Mind you, one of the more disturbing moments in this PC world may be when LaBoeuf decides to give Mattie a spanking. It's not something you see in that context anymore - when a man raises his hand to a woman on film it's usually something more salacious (like Secretary) or more violent (er, Once Were Warriors?).

As the title suggests, this is about true grit and each of the three main characters, Mattie, Cogburn and LaBoeuf, must show their mettle at some point.

They say that Bridges is at a stage in his distinguished and lengthy career, that, like Meryl Streep, he can do no wrong. Well, it takes terrific talent to do no wrong this right.

I realise the buzz in Hollywood is that this is definitely C-C-Colin Firth's turn (he probably should have won for A Single Man, last year), but I would love to see Bridges recognised for this fantastic performance.

The one-eyed man is definitely king.

Is that enough to convince you? Why are you still here? Shouldn't you be heading to a cinema? Check out the trailer below if you're still undecided.

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