Throughout their search they are slowed down by Cogburns whiskey and LaBeouf’s firm belief that Mattie Ross should be left behind any chance they get. This is where Steinfeld rises far beyond the 1969 portrayal of her character. Darby, who sticks to the script of firm talk and no compromise still has a childlike wine to her voice, and a nervous desperation. Steinfeld oozes the confidence needed for this role. She rises to each challenge, sure of self and strong-minded, fighting down anyone before her with an absolute resolve.
By the end of the film as the characters find themselves face to face with Chaney and his men, there is a sorry turn of events that sees Mattie caught and left alone with Chaney. Again, this scene shows the strong difference in acting style from old and new; Darby plays it nervously, with a teary eye and a quivering voice. Steinfeld? Firm in her resolve. A shoot-out between Ned Pepper’s gang and Cogburn, as he takes the reins in his mouth, guns in hands and charges down four of the wanted villains. Through the film, Wayne shows a gentle side towards Mattie where Bridges stays cold and distant. The penultimate scene that turns this around, sees Rooster Cogburn take Mattie along his saddle and ride his horse till he has nothing left after a fatal snake bite. Once he has worn his horse to death, he takes her in his arms and runs across an empty land under a dim starry sky. This scene, discounting Wayne’s tenderness throughout, is a true showcase of Cogburns human nature, that we are left questioning in the Coen’s film.