Nostalgia Whisperer.

Posted: December 28, 2014 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As you may or may not know, there are certain movies people watch at certain times of the year.  Some people reviewed Christmas movies in particular.  Some people reviewed classics.  I’m going to review a movie that seems to take place just before or around Christmas – and unlike my other reviews, I’m not going to spoil this movie for you.  This isn’t a superhero movie I could presume you’ve seen.  This isn’t some new movie that young people following me have probably seen.  However, I just want you to know it’s set around Christmas time, and I’m going to intertwine some other messages in this review.  I know I said I was doing Big Hero 6, recently, but I’m actually a little all over the place getting back into the groove of this (and Christmas making it worse).  However, it is connected to superhero movies in a truly bizarre way.  You’ll see how.

The actual name of the movie is The Horse Whisperer.  The premise of the movie is – a young girl, living in New York, owns a horse.  She and a friend go out riding, only for her friend’s horse to slip on ice.  As a result, both friends end up tumbling down onto a road, where a truck eventually hits them both (this is all pretty much within the first 5-10 minutes of the movie).  The friend dies, the young girl we’re following lives but with a handicap (watch the movie), and her horse is traumatized.  Traumatized to the point where he has a complete change in personality.

So… why the hell am I reviewing a horse movie?

I used to ride horses.  I’ve stopped now, but I’ll be going back.  To review a movie such as this is really only appropriate.

Oh yeah… the little girl.  Remember how I said it’s somehow related to superhero movies?  Well, Scarlett Johansson is that little girl.  Her name in the movie is Grace.  If you want a taste for 13 year old Johansson, watch the movie.  But, someone else from a recent superhero movie happens to be in this movie:  Robert Redford, complete with the obligatory question about milk (seriously expected Sebastian Stan to show up).  And I have to be honest, Redford wasn’t terribly interesting – I mean, he was, but Johansson really peaked my interest.  Thinking of her then and now, it’s just really strange.  I mean, I have to be honest, she didn’t actually change all that much, but it’s like seeing a retrospective work of an actor.  It’s like taking a look into their past without even realizing it.  Honestly, Johansson wasn’t a household name until now.  She is a kid in this movie, and she works with Redford long before The Winter Soldier was even on the table – or any tables.  It sort of gives you insight into her acting style, long before Lucy, Avengers, The Winter Soldier, or any other big name she is known for.  You get to see a kid Scarlett Johansson act.

And all things considered, she wasn’t much different.

She was amazing as a child actor.  I mean, it’s easy to say that now because she became Black Widow, but she is actually very true to herself in this movie.  She is still snarky, witty, etc.  Sure, she doesn’t kick Redford’s ass in this one, but they do semi-battle it out in parts.  And I have to wonder: what was it like for her to work with him so long after a movie like this?  This was made in 1998.  Redford literally saw her grow up.  Considering he directed the movie, he was the one who probably found her in the first place.  And I can’t help but wonder how weird that must have been on the set of The Winter Soldier.  I can’t help but wonder their feelings toward each other or if there’s any other movies they did together (actually, if you know that, please tell me).  Seeing two actors suddenly take such a different stage, while one of those actors is so different, is just really weird to me.  I don’t know why.  It just is.

And for the JP fans following me: Sam Neill is there, too.  He’s Grace’s dad.  He presents himself in his usual calm, cool style with some outbursts.  Sam Neill is a smooth actor, I’ll never say otherwise.  I find his acting style quite mesmerizing.  Probably because whenever I see him, he comes off as someone with a lot of wisdom even if he doesn’t actually have wisdom in the movie.  Even in this movie, he just comes off as the Good Guy because of being level headed during a certain moment (watch the movie).

But let me continue my short summary: Because the horse is traumatized, and her friend is dead, Grace’s mom stalks down (basically literally) and drives several thousand miles to meet The Horse Whisperer (Redford).

So… I need to review from here with no spoilers.

Redford is not entirely different from his Winter Soldier counterpart, by the way.  He comes off as cocky in the beginning.  Overall, I feel like this movie really gave me an insight into some of these actors.  A real, serious insight.

But from this point on, Redford tries to work with the horse, and I feel as though the plot could’ve focused a little more on the horse in the end.  I mean, Pilgrim (the horse) is completely and utterly why they drove that far.  The resolution with Pilgrim appears to happen awfully quickly.  The movie was criticized a bit by horse people (don’t be offended, I am one of them) because of the training techniques used, but, I mean, you could kind of criticize any movie for anything like that.  Star Wars depicts space inaccurately.  Jurassic Park depicts inaccurate dinosaurs (oh, shut up).  The Dark Knight doesn’t represent real jokers.  I mean, hello?  You seeing a theme here?  Yes.  It’s hollywood.  That is what Hollywood does.  If you criticize hollywood that much, you will have a breakdown at what occurs in Bollywood.  I can see criticizing an actual movie with actual animals more than I can understand criticizing Star Wars for lack of space realism – how many friends and family of yours have gone into space?
Exactly.

Simply put, while I can understand why it was criticized *more than other movies*, everyone in the general public needs to remember it’s a movie.  If you have a horse problem, talk to a horse trainer.  Do not listen to Robert Redford, no matter how legit he may look as a cowboy… because he does look legit.  The main point is, someone might actually try to be Robert Redford (Darwinism at it’s finest), but nobody is going to try to turn the International Space Station into the Death Star.  While I don’t generally approve of constant nitpicking for accuracy within movies (see: “Documentaries”), I can see why a little nitpicking might be necessary here: people are stupid.

Aside from the possibility everyone tries to become Robert Redford, the plot itself got a little slow, because as I said, it felt like it didn’t quite focus on the horse as much as it was in the beginning.  It’s also a little bit muddled in it’s morals and the moral messages it’s trying to get through to you.  I haven’t actually quite figured it out yet.  Is it about loyalty?  Is it about not always getting what you want? Is it about being open minded?  I can’t actually figure it out, and the general consensus is actually that the ending sucks, at least within my household (I can’t disagree that much, but the polar opposite you’d just call “predictable” so they lose either way).  The problem with the ending is that they picked such a likeable person for it to be involved with.  It’s genuinely hard to hate the person that is involved with this ending.  The ending actually leaves you morally split.  To me, it’s almost as if it embodies the choices we need to make without owning a horse. You know, your dream job or a secure life type deal.  Overall, yes, the messages are a little bit muddled, but I definitely took that home.

I also took home a few other things: the power of animals, and how quickly people can change.  It’s no secret animals help people heal.  Therapy dogs.  Animals that visit nursing homes.  Dogs that visit cancer hospitals.  Seeing eye dogs (companionship).  I mean, if nothing else, Grace has her horse.  After the accident she is somehow disabled, and bullied for it.  You don’t need to own a horse to be disabled or be bullied.  You don’t need to own a horse to have family tension or a mom who works a lot.  If the messages were a bit more clear, I would say this movie isn’t about a horse at all – but it teeters between a horse movie and a moral movie with a horse in it.  It doesn’t fit either clear cut category.  At times it gets corny, as well.  It sort of speaks to people who watch it through one situation or another. It doesn’t really matter if you have a horse or not – you’ll relate to some situation in this movie.  The morals might be a bit muddled, but the fact is, everyone has something they’re grappling with.  The power of animals completely changes one person.  The characters are fairly developed, certainly, but follow stereotype.  Redford seems cold and distant (and underdeveloped), and the chemistry just isn’t there between he and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

And there’s more that makes you step back a bit.

The shots in this movie make you want to hop in the car and go on a road trip.  I shit you not.  It’s drop dead gorgeous.  It really does the mood of the movie itself justice, especially with the constant heartbreak going on.  It’s just awfully contradicting.

Overall, the movie isn’t terrible but isn’t great.  But if you ever want a movie to see struggle, or see a difficult choice, or just need something human to relate to that is in your face, and feeling like nothing is there for you – hug your dog and watch it.

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