Movie review: ‘True Grit’

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No one is the same after encountering feisty, fearless and plain-spoken Mattie Ross, age 14, from near Dardanelle in Yell County, Ark. Not the other characters in the Charles Portis novel she dominates, and certainly not the filmmaking Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel.

The Coens corralled stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld and came away with “True Grit,” one of their most broadly entertaining films yet. Mattie has a habit of turning people around, she really does.

That bleak but completely delightful Portis novel, in which a much older Mattie remembers the frontier West of the 1870s, has been charming and disconcerting people since it was published in 1968. The key reason is the vim and vigor of Mattie’s irrepressible narrative voice, which more than one critic has compared favorably to Huck Finn’s. Yes, it’s that good.

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