Saturday, August 13, 2011

Buck (Rhoades)

“Buck” Delivers Interesting Ride
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

“I’m helping horses with people problems,” says Buck Brannaman, the man who was the inspiration for Robert Redford’s movie “The Horse Whisperer.”

While Redford makes the expected appearance, this documentary is focused on Buck himself. That explains the monosyllabic title.

“Buck” is riding hard at the Tropic Cinema this week.

As a wrangler, Buck Brannaman is so gentle that even the wildest of steeds gives in to his ministrations. His empathy demonstrates a deep understanding of a horse’s fears. He explains that a horse is naturally frightened of a human climbing onto his back, the same as if he’d been jumped by a lion. “Why let an animal live in fear?” he reasons in his soft-spoken manner.

You meet Buck’s family and cohorts. His wife and daughter perform at rodeos with him. Show horse owners and trainers come from all over the West to learn from him. You quickly discover that he’s as good at training humans as horses.

First time director Cindy Meehl makes the connection between horse training and child rearing. However, a little more probing of this lackadaisical cowboy would have been interesting. Did his abusive father make him into this gentlest of men? Does his sense of humor come from a background of pain. Buck hints at this history. But like his talent with horses, you have to accept it rather than completely understand it.

As a footnote, this horse whisperer doesn’t actually whisper to horses. His technique involves waving a couple of red bandanas to convince the horse that he cares about him. Giddy up.
[from Slares Hill]

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