Feature

Buck

Cindy Meehl’s first film is a documentary about Buck Brannaman, the cowboy and horse trainer who is known as the Horse Whisperer.

Directed by Cindy Meehl
(PG)

***

This “touching but somewhat superficial” documentary is about the man some call the real-life Horse Whisperer, said Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel. Buck Brannaman doesn’t actually whisper to horses, but in a field where cruelty is common, he’s a “soft-spoken soul who uses gentleness and patience” to condition them to behave. Cindy Meehl’s first film “comes at you with the understated eloquence” of its protagonist, said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. There must have been a temptation to amp up Brannaman’s backstory, given that he was raised to be a trick-roping child star by a father who viciously beat him. But Meehl mostly just fills the frame with beautiful images of Brannaman at work and “allows the facts, simply told, to carry the weight.” Unfortunately, we’re never given a clear idea of exactly how Brannaman’s techniques work, said Sam Adams in the A.V. Club. Robert Redford, who came to admire Brannaman while creating The Horse Whisperer, is among the many ranchers who testify to the trainer’s wizardry but fail to explain it. Perhaps the man’s art is “too subtle to be captured on camera.”

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