REVIEW: 'Secretariat'

REVIEW: 'Secretariat'

REVIEW: 'Secretariat', Flicks.co.nz

3 stars

Disney sports drama about the life of Secretariat, a Thoroughbred racehorse who who won the US Triple Crown in 1973. Stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Now playing nationwide. Click here for session info.

Despite dwindling attendances and diminishing totes on and off course, 2003’s Seabiscuit proved there was still a cinematic audience for all things equine. Sharing the same bloodline, or at least horse-wranglers, as that septu-Oscar-nominated epic, this horse-sports-opera boasts all the ingredients for a successful run.  There’s plenty of soft-focus gamboling and galloping (and not just by a blonde-bewigged Lane at her feistiest), a scene-stealing, wardrobe-malfunctioning Malkovich, and a Jockey-cam and low-camera angles which add a new twist to the race action.

A cross between Phar Lap, Bonecrusher and Kiwi (given his propensity for coming from behind), Secretariat made the cover of Time and Newsweek and is believed by many Americans to be the greatest racehorse who ever lived. Throw in the fact that his owner was a sassy southern woman keen to take on the good ole boys and it’s easy to see the cinematic qualities of ‘Big Red’s’ story.

Unfortunately writer Rich and director Wallace clearly decided that wasn’t enough and, in tacking on an unnecessary political subplot (which suggests that, like Seabiscuit, Secretariat united a divided nation) and Christian overtones, they detract from what is a compelling rivalry with Sham and a riveting underdog tale (even if some of the based-on-fact drama is pure fiction).

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