Directed by Robert Redford.
Starring: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Dianne Wiest, Scarlett Johansson
This recent arrival on the video shelves is one for the romantic in all of us, and those of us patient enough to sit through the almost three hours of it.
Young Grace MacLean (Scarlett Johansson) suffers a traumatic accident while horse riding with her best friend; her friend is killed, Grace tragically loses a leg and her adored horse, Pilgrim, suffers near fatal wounds. Disregarding the vet’s advice to destroy the horse, Annie (Kristin Scott Thomas), her ambitious, ruthless editor mother, sets about restoring Grace’s shattered world, and in the process discovers well-concealed wounds within herself.
She phones Tom Booker (Robert Redford), a man credited as being a Horse Whisperer, a romantic name attributed to those capable of understanding the tortured souls of horses. He refuses to help, answering Annie’s statement that he helps people with horse problems, with his belief he helps horses with people problems. Never one to take a refusal, Annie loads up the family Range Rover, has the psychotic Pilgrim dragged into the horse float, leaves her doting husband behind and drives the pugnacious Grace most of the way across America to Tom Booker’s doorstep.
Tom proves to be just as an adept ‘People Wisperer’, as with the tortured Pilgrim, bringing Annie and Grace to an understanding and acceptance of their lives, helping them to return to their New York existence with their relationships not only restored, but strengthened.
Robert Redford fans will relish this movie, it is a real vehicle for his handsome looks and homespun wisdom, never an inappropriate word said, with an insightfulness beyond most mortals. His stoic presence and the sweeping vistas, the slow lyrical pace, combined with the unattainable love of a married woman is reminiscent of ‘Out of Africa’. Fans of that movie may only be disappointed that he hasn’t moved much beyond that. The horse scenes are brilliantly filmed, and the greatest acting credits may well be reserved for the three or four horses used in Pilgrim’s part.