I’m no fan of the Coen brothers and no fan of westerns but this movie is the exception as slowly but surely got me involved in story and when climax came I was already inside film plus was feeling the suspense even when I knew what the end was going to be. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen definitively did a different kind of film that I suspect will appeal to wider world audiences than what their films usually do.
Somehow I imagine that executive producer Steven Spielberg has something to do with making this great piece of classic Americana into a great entertaining film that feels and looks fresh, not at all alike to the original John Wayne's Oscar vehicle; but maybe is because of the screenplay written by the Coen brothers that according to what I read stays closer to the novel by Charles Portis. Whatever it was is of no consequence as film and story are not only very entertaining but production values are top notch with special mention to great cinematography.
To my amazement top credits go to Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, that perform exactly how we expect from such accomplished actors; amazement because is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld who steals the movie with a superb performance that makes above actors look more like they are supporting her that leading the narrative. Every single scene where Steinfeld is on the screen your eyes will go to her and you’ll pay more attention to whatever is happening to her. I was really curious about her performance as late award season buzz is very positive for this young actress and after watching film I believe she will –or she should- fill the fifth spot for Oscar Best Actress nominations. Yes, that’s how good her performance is and truly deserves the honor to be nominated along the other accomplished actresses that surely will get a nod.
All right, there are some moments that film looks like typical Coen brothers films, but those moments belong to Damon, Brolin or Bridges; then have to admit that Jeff Bridges has a good performance and is Oscar worthy not only because his acting skills but also because character looks and the way he speaks are really not like him at all, so he’s really performing and not being himself in film.
Story is very simple as tells how 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) hires U.S. marshal Reuben Cogburn (Bridges) to find Tom Chaney (Brolin) who killed her father. Along the way Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Damon) joins them as they travel into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. If you’re like me that still remember the original film then have to tell you that film is not about destination, is all about the voyage into the known end and believe me when I say that is a very good voyage thanks to superb Hailee Steinfeld.
As a film is quite good and will not be surprised if makes it to Oscar ten nominations for Best Film as not only story is very American but also I suspect will warm the hearts of the Academy voters. In less than a month we will know how many nominations this film gets and if Oscar race will be among three films and not only two.
I do recommend this film that besides the superb performance by Hailee Steinfeld is a very good surprise as directors latest films are not a good reference for me and was expecting their particular filmmaking style that I don’t much enjoy; but most of all because is a very entertaining film that will please audiences that enjoy good Americana stories.
Watch trailer @MOC