March 02, 2004


seabiscuit.jpgIt's an uplifting sports movie (sure are a lot of those) about a race horse and his human collaborators set during the Great Depression. Red Pollard (played by Tobey Maguire) is a young man abandoned by his parents. Tom Smith (played by the awesome Chris Cooper) is a down-on-his-luck horse trainer. Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) is an automobile millionaire tortured by the death of his young son. All these damaged people are joined by a horse with similar defects, both physical and psychological. Together they win races. Cue the inspirational music.

The performances are all as good as you'd expect from these actors (very good, indeed). The production design is impressive. The cinematography is lovely. The documentary-style interludes narrated by historian David McCullough resonate interestingly with current events (even if they don't fit into the film very well). William H. Macy is a hoot as the excitable radio announcer.

So why don't I like the movie very much? Mostly it's because I felt manipulated for practically the entire film. I don't know much about the psychological language of film, but somehow the folks making this movie caused me to react in a way that felt completely disconnected from my conscious perceptions. I'd be rolling my eyes at the swelling music and the sepia-toned imagery at the same time that tears were running down my face. Maybe it wasn't overt manipulation. Maybe the emotional reaction was to a genuinely touching subject while the eye rolling was a reaction to some ham-handed directing. Either way, that facet of the film was bad.

Extras on the DVD were pretty typical with the exception of a gallery of pictures taken by Bridges during the production with a cool panoramic camera I didn't catch the name of.

Posted by jeffy at March 2, 2004 05:39 PM
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