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Overall Rating
3.06

Awesome: 5.56%
Worth A Look44.44%
Just Average: 11.11%
Pretty Crappy: 27.78%
Sucks: 11.11%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings


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All the Pretty Horses
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by Natasha Theobald

"Another time and place vividly drawn."
4 stars

Where do I petition to see the whole version of this movie? There is a feeling that something unnamable is missing, is lurking in the excised material. The loss of it, whatever it is, is palpable. Still, there is a lot worth watching in the film that we can see. I think it is time well spent to take a look.

In the opening scenes of the film, John Grady Cole has lost his grandfather and, because of his mother's decision as sole inheritor to sell, his ranch. Bereft of both his physical and emotional ties to Texas, he sets out for Mexico with his close friend, Lacey Rawlins. En route, two becomes three when they meet Jimmy Blevins, a young boy who seems to be running from something. Against better judgement, they remain loyal to him until danger forces them in divergent directions. Cole and Rawlins happen upon work at a Mexican ranch, where their relationship is challenged by Cole's quick, solo promotion. Things are further strained between the friends as Cole's romance with the rancher's daughter leaves Rawlins ill at ease and more alone. Also, they soon learn the trouble cause by Blevins is not behind them. Cole must reckon with all of his choices, good and bad, to escape, or at least contain, their consequences.

The movie is striking in its ability to sustain expansive vistas and an epic story, as well as small, intimate, human moments. The film begins with a sweeping vastness of possibility. This diminishes as the tale of any man becomes the story of this one man. The emotions become more grounded and specific as reality closes in on him. As the scope is narrowed, the audience becomes more invested in what will happen to Cole and Rawlins. We have moved with them from the freedom of outstretched potential to moments of aftermath and a search for reason or redemption. A foreboding feeling descends over the viewer and a melancholy mood envelops the events of the story. It closes in on you as the story closes in on its characters.

The different relationships among the men were very interesting to me but didn't get the attention they might have deserved. I wanted to know more about Cole's relationship with his father. I wanted to see more of the evolution of Cole's friendship with Rawlins. Similarly, the romance moved a little too swiftly. However, in later scenes, when the characters expressed love, I believed them, to the great credit of the actors.

Matt Damon is able to make the complexities of a character forced to grow up quickly utterly believable. He gives John Grady Cole a sincerity and steadfastness that allows the audience to journey with him and care about him. Moments ranging from fierce violence to complete vulnerability were equally resonant. The supporting cast was strong as well. I would like to have seen more of Robert Patrick and Sam Shepard, mostly because I enjoy them so much.

There is something spiritual about this journey. It's more than the conversations about God among the characters, more than the search for soul or self, beyond mere concepts of sin and forgiveness. There is something underneath that is offered in slight glimpses, more of a feeling than anything tangible. The setting seems otherworldly at times. Something is watching, even, following, from the smiling man by the phone to the old man who is liberated from jail. John Grady Cole may be isolated, but he is never completely alone.

This film is about the feelings it evokes as much as it is about the story it tells. In watching Cole grow up, the audience is given an opportunity to grow with him, to learn from him, and to understand life from that moment in time through his eyes.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1379&reviewer=317
originally posted: 07/13/02 16:54:33
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User Comments

6/05/08 PAUL SHORTT AN ELEGIAC, VISUALLY HYPNOTIC FILM ABOUT LOVE, HONOUR AND REVERANCE 3 stars
5/11/05 Simon Disgustingly simplifies an absolutely breathtaking novel. What a shame. 1 stars
7/30/03 Nicole Goes in too many different directions for me. Had a hard time sitting through this 2 stars
3/07/03 Jack Sommersby Studio-butchered Western is still recommendable. 3 stars
3/09/02 Frances it sounds so sjite i wont even bother 1 stars
3/05/02 Veronica Foxx aka The Raven-Haired Temptress Why is Penelope Cruz thought to be beautiful, she looks like a rodent, and a sucky actress. 2 stars
12/09/01 Jim Damon & Cruz exchange a few glances and fall deeply in love. Watchable but interminable. 3 stars
8/02/01 G-Man Matt Damon was outacted by a 16 year old. Cruz sucked. 1 stars
5/12/01 Belinda Boring as hell. Cruz is a nobody. 1 stars
4/06/01 Cayce Taylor Matt Damon is such a babe, and this is such a beautiful movie.. 5 stars
2/02/01 Okidokee The story was to epic for one movie; it ended up making the entire film shallow. 2 stars
1/07/01 A.K. great cinematography but story a little lacking 4 stars
1/04/01 Charles The kid from Slingblade is all grow'd up, and a good actor to boot 4 stars
1/04/01 Kirsten Really well done; would love to see the director's cut though 5 stars
12/29/00 Fred Liked what was there. Just need more of it. Follows the book quite well. 4 stars
12/28/00 denise beautifully shot, wonderful performances, highly metaphorical 4 stars
12/27/00 TomServo Slow-no point 2 stars
12/25/00 poetchuck Interesting but slow morality play 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Dec-2000 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-May-2001 (M)


Directed by
  Billy Bob Thornton

Written by
  Ted Tally

Cast
  Matt Damon
  Henry Thomas
  Penélope Cruz
  Rubén Blades
  Robert Patrick
  Bruce Dern



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