Reviewed on 2010 October 30
I need to preface this by saying I don’t know from horses, besides teasing Mr. Shukti and helpfully pointing out “Horsies!” whenever we drive by a farm. I’ve heard of Secretariat, Man o’ War and Seabiscuit; I knew they were amazing creatures but I couldn’t tell you what races they’d won. I went into this with no expectations except seeing a good film, and I enjoyed it very much.
Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) is trying to save her father’s thoroughbred horse farm in Virginia as well as take care of her loving family. It’s hard enough now, but in the late ’60s it was even more trying to navigate in the old boy’s world of racehorses, even for a woman like Penny who had her father’s knowledge of the animals. One of her assets is an older mare named Somethingroyal, who is carrying a horse with the blood of Princequillo, a horse known for creating champions. Penny knows this will be no ordinary horse, so she recruits a unique trainer: Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), a Canadian known for his handling of horses and his audibly loud wardrobe. Sure enough, Somethingroyal has a beautiful red colt, christened Secretariat by the Chenery family’s loyal assistant Miss Ham (Margo Martindale). Now, they just have to prove Secretariat’s worth to the rest of the world.
I’ve read some barbs that this was dull or not accurate. While I can’t vouch for the latter, I didn’t find it dull. I thought the acting was particularly good from Lane and Malkovich. Even if you know the story, it’s still worth a few bucks for the acting, and just the scenes of the horses racing.
Three chocolate morsels.