Slick remake building bridges with the past
“Trademark black humour” Sadness of clone tale NEVER LET ME GO (12A)
JOHN Wayne won the Oscar – from his only nomination – as hard-drinking gunslinger Rooster Cogburn in Henry Hathaway’s 1969 version of True Grit. It became a signature role for the actor known affectionately as The Duke, sharing the screen with a young Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper. More than 40 years on, Jeff Bridges is Oscarnominated for the very same role in Joel and Ethan Coen’s masterful reworking, that layers this bloody tale of retribution with the brothers’ trademark black humour. It’s clear from his first appearance, shifting nervously in a courtroom witness stand, that Bridges is not paying homage to his predecessor. He mumbles words as if he is permanently chewing on a ball of tobacco, spitting out polished one-liners like bullets. After a chaotic gunfight, he reneges on a promise to bury the fallen because the “ground is too hard. If these men wanted a decent burial they should have got themselves killed in summer.” So that’s how the west was won. “I was just 14 years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down and robbed him of his life,” explains Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) in her opening voiceover. “You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God,” she adds. And so Mattie seeks out marshal Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and hires him to help her track down Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), who has taken up with Lucky Ned (Barry Pepper) and his gang. A tenacious Texas Ranger called LeBoeuf (Matt Damon), who has been on
Keira Knightley. Chaney’s trail for some time, joins the hunting party. “I know Chaney,” he tells Mattie. “It is at least a two-man job taking him alive.” True Grit has an impressive 10 Oscar nominations and deserves every single one. Production design is impeccable, beautifully evoking the era when the gun spoke just as loudly as words. Steinfeld, who was 13 years old when the film was made, is a revelation as the plucky daughter on a quest for vengeance. She is utterly believable in the role, holding her own against seasoned co-stars, like when Ned captures Mattie and makes fun of her friend Rooster. “He is not my friend. He has abandoned me to a
Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling.
BASED on the Booker Prizenominated novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Mark Romanek’s bleak film is set in a dystopian future when genetic clones are bred and nurtured to provide vital organs for humans. It’s a frightening plausible vision of medical breakthroughs and moral dilemmas to come, and Ishiguro powerfully explores the fates of three clones. On the page, Never Let Me Go is devastating, bookmarked into three chapters that represent the key phases of the characters’ painfully brief lives. On the screen, Alex Garland’s adaptation doesn’t pack the same punch, keeping us at a distance from the clones as they wrestle with destructive human emotions. Never Let Me Go is distinguished by emotionally raw performances from Mulligan and Garfield. FAMILY WATCH: No Swearing, Sex, No Violence.
ON THE TRAIL: Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon.