No country for men of any age
IWestern, Coen brothers’ style; Regal Stadium 14; The Coen brothers’ version of True Grit presents a West where chivalry is dead but heroism is not. The brothers seem intent on debunking the myth of the West — and the Western — before those myths even get a chance to take root. The good guys are braggarts and bores (which, thanks to the Coens, does not mean they are boring), and the bad guys are sad, sorry-looking types who would not be out of place today on one of those reality television shows involving cops and drug busts. The remote landscapes (the film was shot in Texas and New Mexico) are raw, full of barren trees, constant snow flurries, and skies that often look as if they’re about to burst open with gunfire.
The film is based on Charles Portis’ 1968 novel about a 14-yearold Arkansas girl, Mattie Ross, who is hellbent on avenging her father’s murder at the hands of lowlife farm hand Tom Chaney. What she figures she needs to get the job done is a man with grit. Enter Marshal Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed, paunchy debaucher who would rather snort than shoot. The duo is soon joined by a pompous Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, and the three set off into Indian territory to lasso their man. All of them are individualists who need — but don’t necessarily like — one another.
The Coens’ darkly humorous style of filmmaking fits the novel much more than the lighter approach that screenwriter Marguerite Roberts and director Henry Hathaway took with the first film version, released in 1969 and starring John Wayne as