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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Secretariat (2010)

Calling the film SECRETARIAT is a bit misleading but I don't suppose a title like CHENERY would mean as much. The film isn't so much about the famed thoroughbred whose speed record is still unequaled to this day as about Penny Chenery. As played by Diane Lane, the film focuses on the trials and tribulations a housewife goes through in a boys club world to save the family farm and follow her instincts, despite her lack of experience, in training a champion racehorse. Lane does a terrific job here considering the unevenness of the movie. The direction by Randall Wallace (WE WERE SOLDIERS) is incredibly lazy and trots out the cliches of just about every racing film (and even some non racing ones) ever made. On one hand, his handling of the Kentucky Derby sequence is impeccable and he wisely plays down the Preakness race in anticipation of the Belmont finale but then he botches that! When a gospel hymn plays over the Belmont race, I cringed! There's a showy performance by John Malkovich as Secretariat's grouchy trainer and a more subtle one by Margo Martindale who brings some homespun flair. With James Cromwell, Scott Glenn, Fred Dalton Thompson, Dylan Walsh, Dylan Baker and Otto Thorwath.

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