I'm a long time fan of the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, with the odd rare exception their work is some of the best on offer from contemporary cinema.
In my opinion their adaptation of Charles Portis' novel is right up there with Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou? amongst their finest efforts.
Jeff Bridges, who can do no wrong in my eyes, is great as the ageing, alcoholic marshall Rooster Cogburn the archetypal anti hero, who reluctantly agrees to help fourteen year old Mattie Ross (played so impressively by Hailee Steinfeld) to hunt down the low life Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) who brutally killed her father.
Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (played by Matt Damon) is also on the trail of Chaney, and so begins an on/off partnership between the three of them.
Chaney has fallen in with Lucky Ned Pepper (played by Barry Pepper, who is almost unrecognisable thanks to the excellent work of the make up department) and his gang of no good scum bags.
Hailee Steinfeld steals the show, with an acting tour de force, Mattie is a feisty girl who won't be sassed by those who are older and should know better. The scene where she barters over the ownership of the ponies is a real joy to watch. And I also think her character makes this film more accessible to female viewers, like my wife, who would ordinarily avoid the Western genre.
The photography is wonderful, and really shows off the natural beauty of New Mexico and Austin, Texas. The shots of the snow falling really take your breath away.
Without wishing to give away too much of the plot, there are a couple of scenes toward the end of the film that really tug at your heart strings, giving an added emotional connection not seen too often in older films in this genre.
So, if you've never seen a western, and you're curious to see what all the fuss is about, I can't think of many other better introductions.