Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Paul Rae, Domhnall Gleeson
The Coen brothers have adapted Charles Portis’ novel (or remade the 1969 John Wayne film, if you will) for their first Western. This is not one of their twisty and quirky dark comedies but an earnest and delightfully straight-forward genre piece, and the first one of theirs to actually tug at your heartstrings. It tells the story of a feisty 14-year-old girl who hires and joins an old drunken U.S. Marshal to capture the man who shot her father. The three lead performances are excellent: Bridges is hilarious with his throaty drawl and wonky posture, Steinfeld is a revelation as the precocious motormouth, and Damon is warm and charming as a pompous Texas Ranger who chases the same man for another crime. The Coens have not reinvented the genre, but they’ve made a very enjoyable and very disposable Western.