Rooster Cogburn and Kim Darby as Mattie. While we lose Wayne’s star power here, overall the casting is much better this time around. The Coens are more faithful to Portis’ novel than the 1969 movie in terms of emphasizing that Mattie is the one who exemplifies true grit. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld makes Mattie a child warrior who will not let rain nor snow nor sleet nor men with guns sway her from her duty. Oddly enough, in a movie genre dominated by males, she’s the character who most accurately reflects the Western notion that “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” — particularly since her two adult colleagues are preoccupied in proving their own manhood to each other via an absurd series of verbal and physical competitions, including using their six-guns to shoot corn dodgers out of the sky.
As Cogburn, Wayne was the boisterous figure of dubious authority who would somehow get the job done (of course he would — he’s John Wayne!), but Jeff Bridges plays the man as a drunken, unreliable layabout, a W.C. Fields of the prairie who takes perverse delight in applying his boots to the backside of misbehaving children (not once, but twice). With his scraggly, unwashed hair and beard and his bulbous nose, Bridges gives a rendition of the knight errant that emphasizes the errant. The actor puts his stamp on the character, setting aside any worries about being unfairly compared to Wayne, but his gravelly Nick Nolte voice may wear on you, and at times it’s quite difficult to hear what he’s saying. Matt Damon plays LaBoeuf as a confident dandy who might have just stepped out of a Wild West
You human paraquat! Jeff Bridges