True Grit is an American Western film written and directed by the Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, and Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper.
Filming began in March 2010, and the film was officially released on December 22, 2010, in the US, after advance screenings earlier that month. The film opens the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.
The film is narrated by the adult Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel), who explains that her father was murdered by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), when she was 14 (Hailee Steinfeld); Chaney made off with her father’s horses and two of his California gold pieces. While collecting her father’s body, Mattie inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track down Chaney. She is given three recommendations, but chooses to hire Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), because he is described as the most merciless. He repeatedly rebuffs her attempts to hire him.
Meanwhile, at the boarding house where she is staying, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) arrives on the trail of Chaney. LaBoeuf has been pursuing him for several months over a murder in Texas. He proposes to Mattie that they should team up with Cogburn, since the Marshal knows the Choctaw terrain where Chaney is hiding, while LaBoeuf knows how the man is most likely to behave. Mattie rejects LaBoeuf’s offer, partially because he would take Chaney back to Texas to be hanged for the prior murder, instead of her father’s. After finally securing Cogburn’s services, Mattie is instructed to meet him the following morning to begin the search for Chaney. Though instead of meeting Mattie, Cogburn leaves a note telling her to go home while he goes to apprehend Chaney.
After she is refused passage on the river ferry that conveyed Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie demonstrates her own “true grit” by riding into the water and being pulled across by her swimming horse. On the far side, she learns that the two men have agreed to split the Texas reward for Chaney. Accusing him of fraud, Mattie threatens to have Cogburn arrested for breaking their agreement, which specified that she must accompany him on the manhunt. Reluctantly, he allows Mattie to come along. After a disagreement, LaBoeuf sets off on his own in search of Chaney. Eventually, Mattie and Cogburn come across an isolated shack, where two outlaws are staying. After they turn on each other, Cogburn kills the older outlaw, and as the younger one is dying, he explains that “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper) and his gang were planning on returning to the shack later that night. Believing Chaney to be riding with Pepper’s gang, Cogburn and Mattie lie in wait for the gang.