Buck (2011)

Buck (2011) movie poster

director Cindy Meehl
viewed: 02/12/2012

My step-sister had recommended this film to me, and others since, and now I am recommending it to a lot of people because I can think of so many people who would appreciate it.

Buck Brannaman is not “the horse whisperer”, though he did inspire the character of Nicholas Evans’ novel and  consult with Robert Redford on the 1998 film.  In a lot of ways, he’s “the horse therapist”.  In reality, he espouses a practice known as “natural horsemanship” which is kinder, gentler and far more “humane” than traditional practices of “bustin’ broncos”.  He’s noted for his amazing way to approach a new horse and within minutes having it follow him where he goes.  He does this without violence of any kind, only patience and empathy.

The film follows the low-key cowboy from one training session to another and recounts his own troubled childhood in which he withstood immense physical abuse at the hands of his father.  A truly inspiring story of coping with trauma, he has gone on to deal with horses with the same steady conscientiousness and good will that most any person would find a valued attribute in another.

The most dramatic sequence of the film occurs when a truly wild, damaged animal, noted to be one of the most dangerous that one of his collaborators had ever seen, attacks another horseman who is trying to use the gentle practices and tears a gash in his head, and perhaps easily could have killed him.  The horse’s owner realizes that the animal will have to be put down, but Buck comes in and with only his steady patience and flag, manages to coax the animal back into its traveling compartment.  Buck tells the woman, one of his great truisms, that animals often reflect their owners’ issues and problems, that it’s best to deal with oneself first than try to work with a creature beyond oneself.

It’s an impressive portrait of humanity, a portrait of humanity in a very idealized state, a state of patience, tolerance, and kindness that most anyone can appreciate and perhaps admire.