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Reviewed on 2011-06-30
Received[2.5]  out of 4 stars
This documentary from first-time director Cindy Meehl follows American cowboy Buck Brannaman as he travels for nine months crisscrossing the country earning a living by giving four-day horse training seminars.

Buck was the real-life inspiration for the novel "The Horse Whisperer" written by Nicholas Evans and served as equine technical adviser for the 1998 movie directed by and starring Robert Redford.

Redford gave "Buck" legitimacy by being interviewed on camera and making sure the film was part of his 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The movie has a tendency to charm audiences as Buck has a way to transform horses and inspire people with his understanding, compassion and respect.

Buck is portrayed as an unsung hero who emerged from an abusive childhood. His unique training technique to get a horse to follow instructions is based on "feel," taking into account their sensitive nature.

The movie is superficial in nature, barely skimming the surface. As a character study, it is neither deep nor profound. It gets repetitive despite a running time of only 88 minutes as Buck is continually shown standing in a corral or riding around a ring working with troubled horses.

Buck is an engaging personality who wears his humanity on his sleeve. He lives in a horse trailer for 40 weeks out of the year. His wandering spirit allows him to endure the solitude and loneliness of being away from his family. Redford gives him some nice platitudes, calling him an "authentic, real deal cowboy and no-nonsense guy."

Buck's wife, Mary, and youngest daughter, Reata, also appear in the movie. The set locations include a farm in North Carolina and ranches in Montana and California. Original Western-themed music is provided in the soundtrack by David Robbins.

This crowd-pleasing film won the Audience Award at both Sundance and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The movie never takes itself too seriously, maintaining a light tone with a few stabs at humor. The camera work is outstanding with great shots of a variety of horses in the great outdoors. Now playing for a limited engagement at the Rio and Tivoli.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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