The Horse Whisperer (1998)

Rather pleasant, I'm surprised to report.  Robert Redford directs 
himself for the first time in this tasteful adaptation of Nicholas 
Evans' novel, about a legendary Montana "horse healer" who comes to 
the aid, albeit begrudgingly, of a New York City fashion magazine 
editor's daughter's injured steed.  (A riding accident leaves the 
daughter maimed and the horse mad.  Mom, seeking an escape from an 
increasingly loveless marriage, packs a suitcase, hitches a horse 
trailer, and drags her daughter out West.  Gorgeous sunsets and 
breathtaking aerial shots ensue.)  Though there's not quite enough 
of an edge to the film, I don't believe, there's no schmaltz to 
speak of, either.  (Much like Mr. Eastwood's comparable COVERED 
BRIDGES, the film excels at restraint.)  

Fans and folks familiar with the book should be aware that the end-
ing's been changed.  (I won't go into details, 'cept to say that 
the Passion Quotient [PQ] has been significantly reduced.)  And, 
for those expecting a four- or five-hankie weeper, you can leave a 
few of your tissues at home.  (Individual mileage may vary, but I 
counted one, maybe two bawl-worthy moments.)  Robert Richardson's 
photography is simply staggering and the just-under-three-hour run- 
ing time passes at a comfortable pace.  In fact, I might argue that 
the movie should be *longer*, to further flesh-out the dynamics be-
tween both the mother and the daughter and the mother and Marlboro 
Man.  In particular, the latter feels a bit rushed.  I certainly 
wouldn't have objected to another twenty or so minutes with those 
two.  Written by Richard LaGravenese and Eric Roth and also star-
ring Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Scarlett Johansson, Dianne 
Wiest, and Chris Cooper.  (Rated "PG-13"/164 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: May 20, 1998

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