The Horse Whisperer, The Horse Whisperer Movie Review, Movie Review, Film Review
Michael A. Maynez   photo

"The Horse Whisperer"

Robert Redford has directed five films so far and each of them evoked a special quality:  “Ordinary People”, which won him an Oscar for best director; “The Milagro Beanfield War”, a regional mystic work; “A River Runs Through It”, he was haunted by the last line of the book; "I am haunted by water”---“The Quiz Show”, a bit about corruption and politics.  Now he has tackled the Nicholas Evans’s novel “The Horse Whisperer” and unfortunately for him, he has overindulged in directing, acting and overseeing the whole process, which had worked for him so well in the past.  He would do well to review this movie and edit at least twenty to thirty minutes to make his statement, as it is the vistas of Montana play like a travelogue.  His mesmerizing moments with the horse each staring valiantly at each other with such enduring patience is more than most moviegoers are willing to linger for.

All those familiar with the book will find that he has been very faithful to it, except for the ending and by that time it really doesn’t matter.   A vivid accident that leaves a young girl crippled, played beautifully by Scarlett Johansson, an interesting face to watch in the future. A mother, played by the cool looking Kristin Scott Thomas, even cooler than she was in “The English Patient”  (It is difficult for me to enjoy her performance, especially since she was so effective in “Angels and Insects”, somehow Redford and her never bond) in quest for a solution to the trauma of what seems like and ill-fated horse and the relationship to his young mistress. The healing process is too arduous to work for everyone in the film but there are good performances by Chris Cooper as Redford’s brother and Dianne Weist, who looks like she took the west’s hearty eating.  Sam Neill a very understated actor makes his scenes pay-off by his intelligence in what little the script offers him.

Montana will profit from this movie, but as beautifully as it is photographed, the fact remains that it is pretty desolate.

The Horse Whisperer
Touchstone Pictures

  • Robert Redford ----------- Tom Booker, horse whisperer
  • Kristin Scott Thomas ----- Annie MacLean, Grace's mother
  • Scarlett Johansson -------- Grace MacLean, 14 year old
  • Sam Neill ------------------ Robert MacLean
  • Directed by: Robert Redford
    Produced by: Robert Redford, Parick Markey
    Executive producer: Rachel Pfeffer
    Co-producer: Joseph Reidy
    Director of Photography by: Robert Richardson
    Written by: Richard LaGravenese, Eric Roth
    Based on novel by Nicholas Evans
    Rated PG-13
    Running time: 168 min

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    Original Date Sunday 17 May 1998
    Updated Sunday 17 May 1998