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Sunday, February 5, 2012

BUCK (2011)

With his painful past as an abused child performer and his peaceful present as an acclaimed ‘horse whisperer,’ it’s easy to see the documentary potential in the life & ‘aw-shucks’ cowboy philosophy of Buck Brannaman. But as he travels around America’s photogenic landscapes, sometimes accompanied by his charming wife, daughter & feisty foster Mother, giving his 4-day horse clinics, the obvious the draw of the man & his profession gets scuppered by inept execution in this debut from producer/director Cindy Meehl. She, and her crew, seem to miss every shot, then fill in with backlit vistas or oddly framed personal interviews. We never do get much of a feeling for whatever it is Buck does, and the traveling format doesn’t give us much time to get ‘personal’ with any of the horses. And when she does cull one from the herd, the horse turns out to be an unteachable scary mental case. Surely, there's a better film hiding somewhere in Meehl’s mass of footage.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: With its heart in the right place, its nice protagonists and even a cameo from that fictional horse whisperer, Robert Redford, BUCK won an Audience Choice Award @ Sundance. Tells you more about Sundance than the film tells you about Buck.

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