A fourteen year old girl employs the talents of a grizzled old U.S. Marshall to track her father’s killer.
The Coen brothers’ re-imagining of John Wayne’s western classic is actually not as different from the original as you’d expect. The biggest difference is in its lack of bravado; Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn is more of a crotchety old has-been than The Duke’s larger-than-life portrayal and the spectre of Death permeates the film in a similar way to Jarmusch’s Dead Man. Even the teenage Maddy – impressively played by newcomer Hailee Steinfield – is not immune to its touch, as we see when she beds down for the night in an empty coffin nearly as soon as she appears. The melancholy epilogue is another nice touch and the ending in general I felt worked much better than that of the first film. I would have to say that I found Matt Damon an odd casting choice – I suspect the studio insisted on a “big name” – but he acquits himself adequately and although it is amongst the most mainstream of the Coens’ films, it still has enough of their hallmarks to make it appeal to their die-hard fans.
A quality western in the classic style which I personally prefer to the original version.