All The Pretty Horses

"Weak"

All The Pretty Horses Review


All the Pretty Horses reminds me of a bad comedian telling a joke. He begins with an awful set-up and takes forever introducing the characters. If you're lucky, he stumbles into the narrative within five minutes. By the time he's arrived at the punch line, you don't care. You've forgotten the setup altogether.

Billy Bob Thornton's latest film, which examines a Texas cowboy trying to find his dreams in 1949 Mexico, is a tale I might have been interested in. But like that lousy comedian, Thornton's delivery positively stinks. And, what's worse, I couldn't find the punch line anywhere.

Matt Damon stars as the intrepid cowboy who gets a chance to work at a spacious Mexican ranch. However, his trip gets rough when he starts sleeping with his boss' daughter (Penélope Cruz, Woman on Top) and gets arrested for associating with a murderous teen (Lucas Black, Crazy in Alabama).

What I'm offering you is the condensed version of the plot. The movie is really broken into four sections: The trip on horseback to Mexico, love and work on the range, prison hardships, and personal redemption. All four have potential. All four disappoint.

The problem is that Thornton focuses his attention in the wrong places. He offers shot after shot of nature's goodies: Wild horses, intimidating canyons, and spacious plains. Everything takes a back seat to aesthetics (five minutes of Damon and buddy Henry Thomas taming horses!), a maneuver that grows exceedingly tedious as the movie trudges to its merciful end.

By stressing style over substance, Thornton also diverts much-needed attention away from his characters. Cruz and Damon's romance becomes nothing more than a hushed montage of scenes featuring secret lovers, and Thomas and Damon's friendship can't survive the sparse dialogue they share.

Even when there's a peak in the action, which isn't often, Thornton doesn't capitalize on it. I thought the movie would take off when Thomas and Damon go to prison, or when Damon and Cruz reunite. But Thornton's love of slow motion photography and threatening, lengthy conversations shatters any such hopes.

The actors, and there are some good ones here, appear at a total loss for what to do. The weightiness of Thornton's approach means there's no character that can make the material meaningful, especially Damon's. In fact, Damon shouldn't be in this movie. It's easy to see why the girls love him. He's got milky skin and teeth that are so white they border on florescent. He's cute. Adorable. And though Damon has been good in other movies, his presence here bothered me. He's more of a Backstreet Boy than a cowboy.

If there's any upside to All the Pretty Horses it's that Penélope Cruz is absolutely sparkling. You can see why any cowpoke would fall in love with her, and why Hollywood is touting her as someone to watch.

But that doesn't mean you should invest eight bucks on the movie. Just remember who's telling the story.

All the pretty boys, er, horses.



All The Pretty Horses

Facts and Figures

Run time: 116 mins

In Theaters: Monday 25th December 2000

Box Office USA: $14.7M

Budget: $57M

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Miramax Films, Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 67

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as John Grady Cole, as Lacey Rawlins, as Alejandra, as J.C. Franklin, as Cole, as Jimmy Blevins

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.