River Of Grass
Cozy and Lee go on the lam after an accidental shooting in Kelly Reichardt's debut feature
On Film4: 4 Sep 1:00AM
Diane Lane and John Malkovich star in Disney's biographical film about the legendary American racing horse
Secretariat was an American thoroughbred horse who in 1973 became the first Triple Crown champion in 25 years and broke records that still stand today. If that sentence may as well be written in a foreign language, you'll probably have no interest in this saccharine Disney horse biography that should come with a warning of contracting diabetes.
After her mother's death and with her father's health in rapid decline, housewife Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) takes control of dad's stables despite having zero interest in or knowledge of horse-racing. She immediately ruffles the feathers of the men who run the racing world, with her assertive, skirt-wearing ways. And so she rounds up a small but loyal team, including trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich, "dresses like Supafly"), who are determined to prove all the naysayers wrong and lead Secretariat ('Big Red' to his friends) to a momentous victory.
Who is this film for? The overly soft-focus, aggressively feel-good style won't work for most adults and its themes of dated sexism plus obscenely long running time will bore most children out of their tiny minds. That pretty much leaves an audience of only John McCririck and the few other people who may know what a Secretariat is.
It's not that horse-racing dramas can't be good films (Seabiscuit! Probably others!), it's just that the life-affirming message is not only served up with such a huge dollop of sickening sugar that it is impossible to care about the horse or any of the people who dedicated their lives to his success.
Bum-numbingly long bore that has a worrying number of talented actors seemingly involved for a cheque. Watch a film about dinosaurs instead; much more fun.
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