Buck | Film review
This portrait of an inspiring horse trainer beats a you-know-what with its platitudes.
The key to understanding horses is to treat them like people—and the sadness of life is that many children aren’t treated much better than horses. That’s the gist of this portrait of the preternaturally skilled, unfailingly optimistic trainer Buck Brannaman, whose understanding of equine psychology is practically peerless (he was a consultant on and inspiration for The Horse Whisperer), and whose sensitivity toward animals, the film suggests, may partly be a response to being abused as a child. Underlining the parallels to Buck’s work as a trainer, Meehl traces her subject’s triumph over adversity and shyness. But the film says more when it’s preaching less, as in startling footage of Brannaman calming down an unruly colt. The platitudes are a case of beating a you-know-what.