Dir. by Joel & Ethan Coen - 1 hr. 50 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
I'll probably keep this one short, I saw the movie a week ago and have been trying to think about how to write about it since then. First off, it's damn near perfect. I couldn't pick a flaw out of it, and I don't care to nitpick until I can find one. The Coen Brothers have developed a certain style for their "serious" movies (which seems like a misnomer, because even when they're not trying to be funny, I'm still laughing all the way through), which seems to largely to get out of the way of the actors except when surveying the scenery. I'm not an expert on westerns - I've probably seen less than half a dozen in my life (off the top of my head, Sam Raimi's "The Quick and the Dead," "3:10 to Yuma," "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly," and the steaming pile that is "Jonah Hex" - the others that IMDB calls westerns are more genre-bending than straight up western, in my opinion). But what we've got here is a sort of stock revenge story elevated into something more.
The easiest way to put it is that there's plenty in the story for the actors to work with, and without exception the main players knock it out of the ballpark. Jeff Bridges does what he does, which is to say that he inhabits his role. He got the easiest one, I suppose, getting to play Rooster Cogburn (except that everyone already knows John Wayne's version). I found him to be amazing - he's already had a couple of roles that would serve to define other actors' careers, but there wasn't a trace of Dudeness to be found. Matt Damon got to play the Boy Scout character, but despite the character's appreciation for law and order, it's a much more complex and human role than it might first appear. Lastly, the 14-year old Hailee Steinfeld does the impossible, and stands toe to toe with both Bridges and Damon.
I'll cut it short here, and just say that this is another in a string of amazing movies by the Coen brothers.
4.5 / 5 - Theatre