Movie Review: BUCK

By Stephen Rebello

Meet the man who inspired Robert Redford's 1998 film The Horse Whisperer.

Director: Cindy Meehl Rating: PG Studio: Cedar Creek Productions

BUCK, a new documentary about the kind of man who inspired Nicholas Evans’ novel and Robert Redford’s 1998 film The Horse Whisperer, is spare, eloquent, beautiful and profoundly touching.

The centerpiece of the film, directed by first-timer Cindy Meehl, is Dan M. “Buck” Brannaman, a Wyoming cowboy who travels America 40 weeks a year helping supposedly intelligent riders understand their supposedly “dumb” horses. While some might mistake Brannaman for a touchy-feely charlatan, the firm, gentle, no-nonsense man looks suspiciously like a magician, an empath whose deep understanding of horses’ fears, skittishness and traumas relates to his own history as the abused child of an alcoholic father.

When the film focuses on this intuitive man’s interactions with horses which depend on communication, not subjugation Buck is hypnotic. But his interactions with horse owners are even more compelling; they strongly suggest that there are no “bad” horses but badly misguided people who own them. BUCK is a fascinating movie subject and the movie made about him, even when it occasionally rambles, is completely unforgettable.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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