Friday, February 03, 2012

Dances with Redford

Kristin Scott Thomas is one of our most unlikely stars. She's a chameleon of sorts; note here how she gets confused with Uma Thurman. You gotta hand it to her, though. In looking at her resumé she may have been one of the hardest working actresses in history, until she fell in with the wrong crowd, the Sydney Pollacks, the Robert Redfords, what have you, and then it was only one film a year after that. Swift retribution if you leave the Weinstein compound. In Redford's The Horse Whisperer, she plays a Tina Brown-esque editor of a fancy big city magazine, whose daughter loses part of her leg and her best friend in a tragic horseback accident in the snows of upstate New York. Needles to say, that whole damn family needs to get its groove back. Annie does her research and finds the Cesar Millan of horses and sets about trying to rehabilitate the injured horse, and their whole family in the process.
SPOILER ALERT: Now, I hate to politicize any movie, but the battle lines are starkly drawn in this one, especially when we all settle in to the good life in the heart of Montana. Tom Booker and his family is everything good, and Annie's laptop computer and one issue of her magazine are seen as corrputing influences on the Montana youth that get their hands on them. I guess the MacLeans are either liberals or Rupert Murdoch conservatives. They go against the conventional wisdom and usual practice of shooting the injured horse, and Annie works for an elitist, flesh-peddling Vogue-esque magazine. Or maybe it's more like Elle. Vanity Fair but without reporting, in other words. If they shoot the horse, there's no movie!
Cameraman Robert Richardson gets some very, very beautiful Montana sunsets, landscapes and cloudscapes. It was worth it just for that. Apparently, as much as Oliver Stone helped him out, he needed to get away as well, and move on to greener pastures with the likes of Scorsese and Tarantino, and to a lesser extent, Barry Levinson and Errol Morris. Always like to see a person willing to do the occasional quasi-indie job.
Ultimately, the film goes on a little too long, and then there's the courtship between Redford and the MacLean patriarch herself. While not as bad as Indecent Proposal, it still seemed a tad out of character for the two of them, but I guess you can't blame a guy for trying. It takes a long time to make a movie, so it might as well have a little something in it for the director to look forward to! It is what it is, and David Mamet would surely agree with that logic. There's a lot of that kind of shallow philosophizing in the movie, by the way, apparently the kind of thing I Heart Huckabees was striking back against. Between adapting screenwriters Eric Roth and Richard LaGravenese, I have the feeling they were both trying to out-do each other in the Women's Lib department, but LaGravenese ultimately won that one. If I were to watch this one again, I'd probably just skip right to the Montana scenery parts, with all due respect.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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