The Horse Whisperer (1998)

The Horse Whisperer is a drama directed and co-starring Robert Redford.  The story involves a mother of a severely feel-sorry-for-herself daughter, who is still healing from a traumatic injury.  The mother enlists the help of a unique horse trainer in Montana to sooth and heal their horse’s just as hurtful injuries.  Based on the novel by Nicolas Evans.  The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Scarlett Johansson, with Chris Cooper and Diane Wiest.  Written by master screenwriters Eric Roth and Richard LaGravenese.  (Running Time: 169 minutes)(Rated PG-13 for a disturbing accident scene)

Notice when you are seated in a movie theater, and as the credits start to roll, nobody applauds?  Yes, there are a few audiences who respect the film with several noisy claps of the hand, but never a standing ovation.  I would be apart of the standing ovation, my friends.  I do not yet have a top ten list, but this…..this one is there, I would dare say.

As all movies ought to begin–and end–with this powerful, emotional story, with many of the elements of drama, stress, romance, trauma, breakdown, and separation.  The way this story flows is because you follow the emotions and heartstrings of the characters, seeing where they are going, their losses, their gains; all of it.  Throughout the movie, these characters unfold their desires, and one of the strongest elements in the movie is noticing the selfishness of the mother and daughter and what they want.  I enjoy watching films that have a short story within the story; as in, some of the characters will prove to the audience how they are just like you and me and tell a story of their lives, of their past, and where they want to see themselves in ten years.  That’s an element most movies have lost in the past years, I believe.

The acting is impressive as well.  Robert Redford is a good actor–perhaps not the best, but a very good actor.  Although this isn’t his finest performance out there, I still think he can easily put on the cowboy hat and boots and prove to you his character (which isn’t too far from the director’s personality himself).  Kristin Scott Thomas, I have read, is a very difficult actress to work with, much like a Marlon Brando or Orsen Welles.  Nevertheless, she reaches a bar in this movie which is, once again, uncommon for such women in her league to reach.  Her character is wavering at times, but determined on what she wants.  But she wants to balance them out somehow because of her being such a control freak.  Thomas pulls that off very well.  Oh, and Scarlett Johansson pulls of being a brat very well.

A few simple facts behind the scenes of this movie.  This marks the first time Redford directed himself on the big screen.  Natalie Portman was originally going to play the daughter, but went off to film another project that consumed most of her time.  The Horse Whisperer was filmed in the same location another Redford movie was filmed, in Boulder Valley, outside a small Montana town called Big Timber (the movie that was recorded their several years prior was A River Runs Through It).

Thomas Newman’s musical score is beautiful and heartwarming and almost uncomfortably touching, as are his scores for movies like Meet Joe Black, Finding Nemo, Road to Perdition, and American Beauty.  Highly recommended soundtrack!  I still need to buy it…

This movie was gypped at this awards season, I think.  The Golden Globes were “merciful” enough to respect Robert Redford with nominations for Director and Best Picture, but inevitably lost to Saving Private Ryan.  At the Academy Awards, it was only nominated for Best Original Song.  In my personal opinion, it should have been nominated and won Best Picture, Director, possibly Actress, Original Musical Score, and perhaps Film Editing and Cinematography.  Well, its only a wishful thought now…..

It met with mixed to positive reviews, and was a semi-success at the theaters and  movies rental stores, bringing in over $180 million on a $60 million budget.

Oh, oh….what a great movie.  I can’t explain it.  I’m going to give this movie a hands down 7 out of 7 stars.

If you enjoy dramas, westerns, Robert Redford, horse movies, all of the above in general, then you may just want to check this one out.  I’m promise you, you’ll find at least one thing in it you’ll like, whether it be the homelike humor, gorgeous western scenery, impressive acting, or its amazing story.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!  I’d love to hear your opinion over The Horse Whisperer.

About Morgan

January 2016 Update: This blog is under reconstruction. Please be patient while we gradually remove old material, posts, and pages, and create new ones. Thank you.
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