Reviewed by: Joyce Books
Robert Redford comes through once again (in his first directorial and starring role) in the terrific story, “The Horse Whisperer”. Two teens are out for an early-morning horseback ride in snowy country when one horse loses traction and causes a devastating accident. Both girls and horses land on a logging road with an approaching truck. One girl is tragically killed and the other, Grace MacLean (Scarlett Johansson) is forced to live with the loss of part of one leg. Grace’s horse is so badly wounded that it should be mercifully put down, but Grace’s mother Annie (Kristin Scott Thomas) believes the horse should be kept alive. Needless to say, both Grace and the horse (Pilgrim) not only have physical wounds to heal; but emotional ones as well.
Annie is an aggressive editor of a magazine who devotes too much time to her profession, causing both her husband and daughter to be sacrificed in the name of work. In search of a way to have Grace’s horse, Pilgrim, become well again, Annie researches and learns about “horse whisperers.” With daughter and horse in tow, she journeys to Montana to see if Pilgrim can once again become the stately animal she was before the tragic accident.
Enter Tom Booker (Robert Redford), the horse whisperer. Despite Annie’s marital status, Tom and Annie begin an emotional entanglement during the time when Pilgrim and Annie’s daughter begin to heal from past wounds. Despite the adulterous affair described in the book, this film version thankfully does stand on some moral ground. Even though Tom and Annie begin to realize their love for one another, they are convinced it is not in the best interest for the sake of Annie’s husband and daughter (a refreshing moral ring often lacking today).
This nearly 3-hour long film is truly stunning with only some rare “lagging” scenes. There were no bed scenes and only 2 profanities. Be sure to pack some tissues in your pockets; this heart-wrenching story is sure to produce some tears. The scenery is fantastic, beautiful beyond words, and the acting is good. Without a doubt, “The Horse Whisperer” is one of the best films of 1998. Beware of some difficult situations, however. The horse accident is quite upsetting. Also, there is a kissing scene involving a single man and a married woman. Overall, highly recommended for teens to adult.