Film Review: Buck (2011)

When they say a person is cut from a different cloth, it is quite likely they are taking about a person like Buck Brannaman. Cindy Meehl’s portrait of the inspiration behind The Horse Whisperer documents a man with unyielding moral kindness.

Raised in an abusive home where a father who beat his children beyond reproach, it seems quite unlikely that a child could grow up to be a sensitive, calm and collected individual. Plucked out of the family home after the death of his mother, the two Brannaman boys were placed in a foster home, saving them from further torment and turmoil.

Inspired and trained by natural horsemanship trainer Ray Hunt, Buck began horse rearing clinics in the early 80s. Almost 30 years later, Sheel guides the film through Buck’s current clinics as well as detailing his upbringing. An effectual portrait documentary relies on a fascinating subject to hold appropriate attention. Buck does just this. Where dominance and a no-nonsense approach usually surround any typical animal training, it is the humanity that Buck brings to his role that stands out.

Insightful techniques and astute words of wisdom are cast perfectly alongside the backdrop of Mid-West America, the ultimate civilised wilderness. David Robbins (Dead Man Walking) adds an acoustic guitar led score to add to this vivid aesthetic.

Family, friends, fellow horse wranglers and Mr. Sundance himself – Robert Redford – appear in interviews and waste no seconds in describing the true renegade that Buck is. His kindness, empathy, and care make Buck an affable outlaw renegade. Leading by the feel and less by the physical sees the successful training of the horses.

Meehl and cinematographers Luke Geissbuhler and Guy Mossman capture the beauty of the horses, displaying their regal elegance. A large and potentially dangerous animal, one out-of-control horse is also featured with a label as the wildest horses Buck has ever dealt with. In typical horsemanship fashion, Buck does not blame the animal, but instead the humans that allowed the horse to get to that state. Rational and charismatic, Buck is an affable subject in a moving and an extremely enjoyable film.

Buck opens theatrically in Australia on February 16 through Madman Films.

4 blergs

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