MIFF 2011 Film Review: BUCK

26 Jul

By Julian Buckeridge

Buck Brannaman, the subject of Cindy Meehl’s documentary Buck, who inspired the novel and film versions of The Horse Whisperer, is a warm and impressive figure who possesses a certain magnetism. A quiet man who seeks to tame – rather than break – horses, the subtext of the film reveals much more.

Buck follows Brannaman on his nine-month road tour, where he teaches four-day seminars in “colt starting” – showing riders how to become one with their horse, rather than leaving it broken and afraid. Through his training, the viewer begins to see the correlation between horse and owner.

Brannaman’s abilities are hypnotic, providing a healthy contrast where the animals gracefully – and willingly – move to his gentle will. The method is so convincing that Robert Redford would hire Brannaman for The Horse Whisperer and he would become integral to the film’s process. The viewer learns, however, that his understanding comes from an abusive upbringing the left him scarred – so much so that he was sent to a foster home. Soon the audience understands why Brannaman was drawn to this empathetic methodology.

Cindy Meehl’s direction is strong, with some mesmerising and emotional moments, including an anecdote about a pair of buckskin gloves that truly impacts. Landscape shots are hurt by shooting in digital but the rest of the film is quite stunning to watch.

Many questions are left unanswered, like the fate of Brannaman’s brother, or other contemporary trainers who share similar philosophies. Nevertheless, this documentary is an effective and entertaining look at a communion between man and animal.



7 Responses to “MIFF 2011 Film Review: BUCK”

  1. Maija McLoughlin August 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Where can I see the movie in Australia?

    • Editor August 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      It’s playing at MIFF at the moment. Not sure if it’s getting a theatrical release, will let you know when we know. Otherwise it should be available through MUBI.com down the track.

  2. amanda October 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Just wondering if the Buck movie is/was ever released om Australia?

  3. Lisa November 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    I recently watched it on DVD in the USA. It’s very good.

  4. claire e. February 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    February 2012: Buck was released in Auckland on 19 January, and unfortunately I didn’t have any time left to catch a session. I was hoping it would available on the silver screen here in (Melbourne) Australia. Mum caught it; reported it’s wonderful. CJ

  5. sahil kumar November 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Its really cool thing to know

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