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Movie Reviews

All The Pretty Horses  


John Grady Cole†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Matt Damon)
Lacey Rawlins ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Henry Thomas)
Jimmy Blevins ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Lucas Black)
Alejandra††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Penelope Cruz)
Don Hector Rocha y Villarel†††††††††††††† (Ruben Blades)
Alfonsa††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Miriam Colon)

 Directed by Billy Bob Thornton

 Written by Ted Tally, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy

 Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sexuality

 Running Time: 112 minutes †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Distributed by Miramax and Columbia
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 ††††††††††† All the Pretty Horses is a flirt of a film that becomes too complicated.The film opens in San Angelo in 1949.John Grady Cole (Damon), a young cowboy, learns that he has lost the ranch he grew up on after his grandmother passes away.Looking for a fresh start, Cole and his best friend, Lacey Rawlins (Thomas) decide to head to Mexico for work.On the way South, the two run into a sixteen-year-old boy named Blevins (Black), who signals trouble from the first moment the two lay eyes on him.As the three move on, John and Lacey are nearly caught in Blevins understandable criminal actions.However, the two do make it to Mexico and gain jobs by taming mustangs for a rich Mexican landowner named Don Hector (Blades).Temptation takes over Johnís life when he falls in love with Don Hectorís daughter, Alejandra (Cruz).Many problems then began for John as he is taken quickly on a long journey of self-discovery, life, friendship and horses.

 ††††††††††† I enjoyed the first half of All the Pretty Horses, but I found the last fifty minutes of the film to just be too much that is unexplained or elaborated on.

 ††††††††††† Screenwriter Ted Tally adapted the script from the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy.The strength of the script is Tallyís dialogue and main characters.The communication and speaking throughout film flows well from each actor except one (Cruz).John Grady Cole is a character that is relative to anybody and I found myself routing for him from beginning to end.The downfall of the script is something I see a lot in adaptations of long novels, which I call ďtoo-much, not enough.ĒThe term means that the screenwriter(s) added too much from the novel and didnít elaborate on all the extra parts or complications.One example is the unknowing of the background or really any motive of some supporting characters that arise towards the end of the film.The second half of the script is just filled with too many complications that didnít seem much of importance.

 ††††††††††† Billy Bob Thorntonís direction is beautiful in this film.He captures the essence of the old West through his visuals and set locations.Many western genre objects are focused on throughout the film.Examples are the sun, deserts, dirt, clothing, Rio Grande, spurs and most of all horses.In fact, probably the best scene in the film has brilliant focus on horses, when John and Lacey tame many in just four days.This sequence reminded me a lot of Robert Redfordís direction in The Horse Whisperer.I believe Thorntonís direction is well done, even though the film becomes questionable and incomplete.I did learn that Thornton had some disputes with Miramax over the length of his original cut of the film.His original running time for All the Pretty Horses was four hours and fifteen minutes.However, Miramax thinking about audience and marketing made Thornton cut the film to less than two hours.This in fact could be the reason why a lot of the aspects in the film where left hanging or confusing.What I am saying is that this version isnít Thorntonís original vision of the film.

 ††††††††††† Matt Damon is superb in this film as the young cowboy John Grady Cole.Behind Good Will Hunting, this is the best I have seen Damon act.He is very talented and can shift and switch modes, accents and emotions instanteously.Damon has shown this year that he is still hungry for another Oscar.Henry Thomas makes a respectable return to the screen as Lacey Rawlins in this film.I can still see Elliott (E.T.) in Thomas, but he has grown up into a very fine actor.An actor that is definitely on the rise is young Lucas Black.The teenage actor serves up another very balanced performance in this film as the young Blevins.Blackís previous credits include Sling Blade and Crazy in Alabama.The downfall of the cast is Penelope Cruz, who plays Alejandra.Cruz is one of the supposedly up and coming actresses in Hollywood.However, she has shown nothing to me yet of being a good actress (she was previously in Woman on Top).Cruz delivers a horrible performance with no emotion or chemistry with Damon.To me, it seem that she was just reciting her lines, maybe it is that her English isnít that good yet.An example is when John tells her that he will love her until the day he dies, Cruz un-feelingly replies very mellow, ďI believe you.ĒThis moment was so crucial to the film and Cruz leaves Damon hanging out to dry with her poor acting.Maybe other reviewers are seeing something in her that I am not.

 ††††††††††† All the Pretty Horses is a pretty film, but not that good of a film.It just gets too full of problems for the main character too handle.

 Report Card Grade: C-

 Beastmanís Movie Reviews

 Copyright, 2000 Joseph C. Tucker 

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