Slick re­make build­ing bridges with the past

“Trade­mark black hu­mour” Sad­ness of clone tale NEVER LET ME GO (12A)

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - BIG SCREEN - By Da­mon Smith Da­mon Smith

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.


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