The Horse Whisperer
Redford's sharp directing turns Evans' mawkish best-selling novel about a teenage girl's (Johansson) recovery from a horseback-riding accident into a poignant, beautiful film. When a gruesome accident leaves Grace and her beloved horse physically and psychologically injured, Grace's headstrong workaholic mother (Thomas) hauls both across the country to a mystical horse healer (Redford) in Montana. A regular Marlboro-man rancher, Booker doesn't actually talk to the horses; he just stares them down, real gentle and nice-like. Life on the range proves therapeutic for horse, girl and mom, who has fled an ailing marriage and starts staring at Booker real gentle and nice-like. When not coaxing the horse around the coral, Booker is playing therapist, getting Grace to confront painful memories of the accident and mom to face up to her true feelings about her husband (Neill) and her future. Redford fills three hours with eye-popping footage of the Montana landscape, but it's uncompromising performances by Johansson and Thomas that make this tale of spiritual renewal so engrossing.
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