All The Pretty Horses

"OK"

All The Pretty Horses Review


In directing "All the Pretty Horses," a romantic homage to the great American cowboy epic, Billy Bob Thornton adheres honorably to the code of the Western and emerges with a familiar and satisfying -- if not entirely memorable -- eulogy to a lifestyle that rode off into the sunset some time last century.

The film takes place in 1949 and follows a handsome young rancher, played with surprising 10-gallon-hat credibility by Matt Damon (he says "I reckon" like he means it), who clings to the cowboy way as he tries to find a new life in Mexico after losing his family's long-time homestead.

"Come to find out, Mama means to sell it," Damon narrates in a flawless Texas drawl. "Says the oil company will pay her three times what it's worth."

So he and his pardner, an old friend played by Henry Thomas (also unexpectedly convincing as a cowboy), pack up their saddle bags and head south where "it ain't all fenced in, sold out and played off."

Yeah, they talk like that through the whole picture. But they amble through the accents and trail talk in such natural fashion it becomes almost melodious -- a tribute to the strong, faithful handle the actors have on their characters and Thornton has on this beautifully photographed sagebrush saga, which unfolds in classic three-act structure.

Traveling by horseback and sleeping under the stars in Act One, Damon and Thomas meet up with a sharpshootin' teenage cowpoke (Lucas Black) running away from an abusive stepfather. The kid gets them into some trouble in a border town when there's a dispute about the ownership of his horse, which got away from him during a thunderstorm. The three of them hightail it out of there, but you know the episode will come back to haunt them.

In the Second Act, Damon and Thomas have landed ranch hand jobs working for the wealthiest rancher in Mexico (Ruben Blades) by wearing themselves out busting 15 wild broncos in four days. This catches the eye of both Blades, who offers Damon a better job in his stables, and Blades' breathtaking, strong-willed daughter (Penelope Cruz).

"You're fixin' to get me in trouble," says Damon, knowing Papa won't approve. "You are in trouble," Cruz replies with a flirtatious smile before riding off, bareback, on Damon's horse.

Thornton reportedly trimmed his first cut of "Pretty Horses" by more than 90 minutes to bring it in at a watchable run time, and if it shows anywhere it's in the swiftness of this budding romance, which goes from batting eyelashes to skinny dipping to declarations of everlasting love faster than a rodeo rider can tie up a calf.

The Third Act finds Damon and Thomas reunited with the kid and hauled away to a dangerous Mexican prison on questionable charges related to the horse-swiping incident. Stockade horrors and a death or two ensue, of course, but Cruz's aunt buys Damon's freedom on the condition the two lovers never meet again.

Well, we all know where that's going, don't we?

Still, "All the Pretty Horses" is a fairly appealing cinema throwback, complete with cowboys philosophizin' about death around a campfire, angled light falling across the hero's eyes in a otherwise shadowy shots, and a customary Western-Latino score that services the story well without being trite or irritating.

It's hard to say why Thornton persisted with a handful of off-kilter dream/fantasy sequences he sprinkles through the movie while shortchanging the romance and a couple subplots that evaporated in editing process. He also wraps things up a bit fast with a rather easy out for Damon's third act dilemma. But Thornton is a skilled director who makes a handsome, extremely well-acted film, even if it comes up a little short.



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 / 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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.