Buck review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
A film that delves into the mind of Buck Brannamen, the victim of years of violent child abuse who went on to become a world renowned horse whisperer.
The film is a moving and painful look into Buck’s childhood, where we see him and his brother Bill behaving like trained animals themselves as they were forced by their abusive father into performing as cowboys in a rodeo. The brothers had a great deal of skill and trained meticulously, we learn however that this was under the constant glare of their violent father who had beaten all enjoyment out of them.
The movie shows how Buck felt a strange empathy toward the horses that surrounded him in the rodeo, who too were beaten viciously by their masters; it is when Buck learns of the new trend emerging in horse training, championed by legendary horse trainers Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, the he realizes what his true calling is.
The movie is an interesting and emotional exploration of the horse whispering trade, yet what struck me more about the film was the huge, and understandable, impact Buck’s abusive childhood has had on his development. Buck identifies with all the horses he encounters in a deep and intriguing fashion which I found quite astonishing, yet the way he projects humanistic behaviour and emotions onto many of the horses he encounters is interesting, making the relationship between horse and rider starkly evocative of the relationship between a child and abusive parent.
I don’t necessarily disagree with this kind of thinking, I simply felt that the movie pushed it a bit too much; it took the edge of the piece in the end. Had it been a subtle undertone it would have had far more of an impact, instead this aspect of it feels heavy handed and over played.