All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Friday, December 4th, 2020

Movie Secretariat is a sure thing

Well quality has finally caught up with me. The films are getting better and in the last two weeks I’ve seen two really good films. I’ll review The Social Network next week because this week is all Secretariats.
I have to admit from the moment I saw the preview I wanted to see this film.
It had at least 3 of the big 4. Cast, story, writing and I just wasn’t sure about the director.
I love Diane Lane. I’m not in love with her like Meryl Streep but her work is exceptional. She has that low level burning sensuality that works best when she isn’t trying to be anything other than herself. I may need a moment here.
Ok, I’m fine. In Secretariat she plays Penny Chenery, a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t going to let anything get in the way of her vision, and there’s a lot that could get in the way.
Her family wants her to sell the family farm, now that her dad is sick and no longer able to run things. She sees potential and when this little foal is born that stands up immediately she thinks she has found her blessing.
Her pursuit of her dream costs her her marriage, although this is a story about a horse so the romance is kept in the background. We think she loses her relationship but it is only put in play, not hammered home for us. This movie lets us feel things.
I think Penny Chenery is a great role and I think she’s your front runner for Best Actress so far. I like Kathleen Keener in Please Give but this is such a great role.
She fights the boys club or horse breeding which sees women as trivial and inconsequential; her family which wants her to sell something at every opportunity, and she fights history, because the triple crown is an elusive prize.
The one thing she never has to fight is the horse. Secretariat is her lightning rod and there are times when the director wants us to think that the two are somehow connected psychically, and maybe they were.
Everything about the horse is exceptional.
It really did defy the odds and rewrite the record books. When it died, an autopsy showed its heart was 2 1/2 times the size of a regular horse. It explains a lot.
The horse had style and attitude. It won the Belmont by 31 lengths. His records still stand at Belmont and the Kentucky Derby. When he won the triple crown it hadn’t been done in 25 years. It’s one of the most elusive titles in sports. Even before it won everything, Penny turns down $7 million for the horse before it even won a race. Again her family brought massive pressure to bear. She was just a woman who didn’t know much about horse racing. This was absolute folly.
Enter Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) who does know a thing or two about training horse and he sees the greatness. He doesn’t necessarily want to train any more horse and it doesn’t seem like he’s too impressed with a woman being the owner, but the guy is good and he has respect for talent, Penny’s and Secretariat, and they form a bond that drives the story.
This really is the best movie I’ve seen this year. I will see it a few more times. I think it has a resonance for people whether they love horses, or horse racing and yes, the two are quite distinct and separate. If you love horses there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. They get it right for the most part.
If you are a fan of horse racing, and it is the sport of kings with a huge opening for all us common folk. Anyone who’s a fan can’t help but be impressed. We love dominance.
I think part of it is people are nervous, they can’t handle stress and they want to back a sure thing.
Secretariat was as close to a sure thing as there was.
It won the derby by 2 1/2 lengths, with Sham pushing it but finishing 2nd. In the Preakness the same thing, with the same result. Sham finished second losing by 2 1/2 lengths.
Sham was actually favoured in the Belmont, and Secretariat was so dominant that the field was only four other horses. You couldn’t get a show bet because the field was so sparse. Secretariat wasn’t supposed to like the extra distance. Secretariat and Sham pulled away from the pack and opened a 10 length lead but Sham tired. It ended up finishing last. With nothing chasing it and no chance of losing Secretriat went full throttle and those records may never fall.
You can know that without it taking one single ounce of pleasure away from this film.
It’s the story behind the story. It’s about people with vision, letting greatness find its way to the top. Malkovich and Lane play off each other perfectly and that alone is worth the ticket price. Writer Mike Rich, who also wrote The Rookie and Miracle takes Bill Nack’s book and brings it to life. It’s a major accomplishment to be able to tell people a story they already know and make it even more interesting.
I think this is 2010’s Blind Side and there are a lot of similarities.
See the movie, buy the book, and the DVD. It’s all worth it.
I’m looking forward to going back, if I can just find someone who won’t get upset when Diane Lane looks at me funny. People are so strange.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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