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May 18, 1998 - Image 12

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-05-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

12 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 18, 1998

'Horse Whisperer' is wonderful

By Neal Carruth
For the Daily
Robert Redford's "The Horse
Whisperer" is a stirring and passion-
ately made film that definitively
establishes Redford as one of today's
most able directors.
"The Horse Whisperer," based on
the best-selling novel by Nicholas
Evans, chronicles the psychological
turmoil of the affluent, urban
MacLean family.
An equestrian accident, beautifully
staged at the beginning of the film,
severely injures the young daughter,
Grace (Scarlett Johansson). Grace's
horse, Pilgrim, is also wounded in the
Grace's mother, the driven and
ambitious Annie MacLean (played by
Kristin Scott Thomas), fears that her
daughter will never recover emotion-
ally from the accident.
Unable to connect with Grace,
Annie takes it upon herself to heal
Pilgrim instead. She contacts an ani-
mal healer, Tom Booker (Redford),
known as the "horse whisperer."
After Booker's initial refusal to
help Pilgrim, Grace and Annie travel
to the Montana
ranch where
Booker lives
with his brother
The Horse and sister-in-
Whisperer law.
Booker then
accepts the chal-
At Showcase lenge and
and state spends the bulk
of the film
attempting to
soothe the
horse's agitated
s p i r i t.
Meanwhile, an
attraction begins to kindle between
Annie and Booker.
The leisurely fashion in which
"The Horse Whisperer" moves allows
the full complexity of relationships to
surface. The accident highlights the
strained relations between mother and
daughter, as well as husband and wife

Outstanding performances by Robert Redi
Whisperer" a success.
(Sam Neill plays Annie's husband
Robert) and man and animal.
These relationships provide the
core of the film and make it relent-
lessly fascinating. Each character is
damaged in some fashion, and
nobody completely recovers.
Thankfully, "The Horse Whisperer"
spares the audience a typical
Hollywood ending in which all prob-
lems are resolved.
A stunning set of performances
creates deep interest in this human
drama. Newcomer Johansson tackles
the difficult role of Grace with great
self-assurance, acting out convincing-
ly the pain Grace feels. Her perfor-
mance is every bit as accomplished as
those of her better known co-stars.
Scott Thomas delivers a superb per-

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ord and his co-stars make "The Horse
formance, soaring across a challeng-
ing range of emotions. Her character,
Annie MacLean, is wonderfully rich
and interesting. Neil is also solid as
the introvert Robert MacLean, whose
wounds are hidden from view.
Dianne Wiest (perhaps the best
supporting actress at work today) is
marvelous as Diane Booker. S
lends a sense of stability to the film
and anchors "The Horse Whisperer"
in a touching way.
Redford's performance is charac-
teristically subtle. Resembling his
contemporary, Warren Beatty,
Redford doesn't dazzle with displays
of theatrical pyrotechnics.
Rather, he quietly enters the soul of
his character and, as Booker, projects
solidity and warmth in one of 1
finest performances in years.
On the technical front, Redford and
his cinematographer, Robert
Richardson, capture the beauty of the
Montana landscape in many exquisite
sequences. Redford is also incredibly
attuned to sounds and textures
throughout the film.
Despite his good sense, Redford
indulges an annoying tendency to
film his characters surrounded by an
outline of golden sunlight. The slo4
motion sequence of Thomas and
Redford on horseback is also a tad
Another minor flaw of "The Horse
Whisperer" is length. At two hours
and 45 minutes, the film is a tad long.
Even so, Redford produced a splen-
did film that defies simple catego-
rization. "The Horse Whisperer" tran-
scends any particular genre in tk
same fashion as previous succes
like "Quiz Show" and "The Milagro
Beanfield War."
The film unpretentiously examines
its characters and will inspire intro-
spection on the part of the viewer.

Walking distance from campus
Sliding scale fee available
Call Donna Goodin, LLPC
(734) 741-1888

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