I'm rather late in writing my account of what I thought of this film but I hope I haven't forgotten what my immediate thoughts were on such a strong film.
Once again, I put forward a case for a good film, well told, that doesn't have maddening spectacle as it's centre-piece but is an straight forward story, acted thoroughly impressively and shot beautifully. The sum of all of those simple elements is enough to give you a very worthy film. Yes, it was snubbed somewhat at the Oscars etc but who cares a fig for awards anyhow?
Amazingly, though there are the formidable actors, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, in here, the real force behind the film comes from the narrator and character of Mattie Ross played exceptionally well by Hailee Steinfeld. She holds herself brilliantly in every one of her scenes and to make her mark against the other actors around her is a grand feat so all credit goes to her. Jeff Bridges is hilarious and slurs his lines so that they are barely discernible but it all adds to this larger than life character that, in the final moments of the film, proves his 'true grit'.
The film rotates around this deep need for Mattie to avenge her father's death which isn't handled with any real sentimentality or heart wrenching emotion but instead builds up like an inevitable shot out that you know is coming when you watch an old style Western. The film mirrors the dogged eared determination of it's protagonist in that respect and doesn't indulge in any subplot. I found myself rather wrapped up in events though and there were definite moments when I found physical emotional responses bursting forth. Major thumbs up :D
The natural landscape of the story is the only element that keeps it from being a super self contained film and its stunningly shot by the cinematographer, Roger Deakins. The opening shot of the film is a masterpiece, a real painting coming to life in front of you.
I'm not going to say much more, other than this film is one you should make the effort to watch: acted well, shot well, scripted well and told well - what more could you want? The Coen Brothers deliver solidly again. I haven't read the book so cannot comment on how it's been adapted but even as a film standing on its own, its a worthy one.