Theatrical Review: BUCK
Buck Brannaman isn’t a name anyone outside of the ranching and rodeo business probably knows. Unless of course you are Robert Redford, who directed an adaptation of the dearly beloved Nicholas Evans novel THE HORSE WHISPER, but even Redford didn’t know Buck until he strode through his Santa Monica office in the late 1990s. Buck is a man who understands people through his connection with horses. That may sound cheesy, believe me I thought the very same thing, but upon watching Cindy Meehl’s documentary on the most prolific “horse whisperer,” I was definitely singing a different tune. Buck is a man who faced the harshest, most despicable life early on, and overcame adversities many could, and should, never imagine.
Growing up in a house of abuse at the hands of his monstrous father, Buck was surely destined to follow the same path. However, his respect for God’s gentler creatures saved him. After years of bruises, he and his older brother were sent to live with foster parents who encouraged the children’s love of animals. Eventually Buck found solace in the horses on the ranch and grew up to be an advocate of Natural horsemanship - a form of horse training where the horses are respected rather than broken.
BUCK presents its hero as a calm adult who genuinely expects people to understand their own humanity through the personhood of the animals in their charge. He trains the owners just as vigorously as he trains the horses, bringing them together as one fluid working cog. Buck is one of the most unassuming, yet completely engaging subjects for a documentary. The film’s multiple layers peel away to reveal a man who not only understands horses, but who also brings a mirror up to the owners of these neglected giants who find their way to his clinics. Buck’s love and respect of each horse is obvious, and his disappointment when he can’t fix the most troubled horse is heartbreaking. In the end, helping the human is just as important as taming the horse.
The award-winning documentary is gifted with a stellar original score by David Robbins and stunning cinematography by Luke Geissbuhler and Guy Mossman. BUCK is for more than just the horse lover, it’s for anyone who needs reminding of the goodness in man.