True Grit may be the Coen Brothers’ first Western but it certainly doesn’t seem that way. Steeped in the classic Western tradition and laced with the signature Coen Brothers style and wit the 2010 adaptation from Charles Portis’ novel of the same name certainly earned its Oscar nomination. In its Christmas release it secured the top box office spot for weeks but in case you were one of the seven people who didn’t manage to see it on the big screen you’re in luck because True Grit is now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Even on an average television screen the force of the film and high definition format helps maintain the power and excitement of watching it on the big screen. Though swathed in a time period-appropriate cast of muted colors the magnificent simplicity of the film pops in 1080p high definition. The Dolby Digital HD audio allows for the famously punctuated tight Coen Brothers dialog crackling fires galloping horses and gunfire to be heard with a stark sense of reality.
While visually stunning the film’s real strong point is in its lead actors. Jeff Bridges Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld all deliver fantastic performances Steinfeld especially. The young star was just 14 when she filmed True Grit yet like her character Mattie Ross shows capability beyond her youth. She was the real treat when this film hit theaters; while we hoped she’d be able to hold her own onscreen alongside names like Bridges Damon and Brolin she ended up blowing them out of the water.
True to that delightful surprise the Blu-ray delivers a featurette all about how Steinfeld went from aspiring actress to the young woman lighting up the screen. It’s called “Behind the Scenes With Mattie Ross ” which is a bit misleading because it’s more about Steinfeld’s process and audition that her character. All eight of the disc’s features are worth taking the time to watch but between the Mattie Ross vignette and the mini biography of Charles Portis you’ve really got all you need. The feature addresses the John Wayne adaptation of the novel but focuses greatly on Portis’ influence in writing the novel and his influence on American literature in general. Sure some of you are probably picking up True Grit to see Bridges shoot ‘em up but there’s a lot more to this film than the final product and these features explain that with the ease of a gummy vitamin.
Of course if you’re just looking for some action the film delivers that in beautiful spurts – and the special features even include a video about designing the guns for each character. The disc doesn’t deliver an overabundance of extras but like the film’s deliberate simplicity the ones it does deliver are purposeful useful and interesting which is all you can really hope for when looking for special features. It’s the perfect complement for yet another masterpiece from Joel and Ethan Coen.
True Grit hits Blu-ray and DVD June 7.