You don’t have to be a horse person to enjoy this gentle documentary but it would probably help. Buck Brannaman’s life story seems ready made for the movies, so it’s little surprise he was partial inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in The Horse Whisperer. Buck doesn’t actually whisper at the horses he tames in the workshops he hosts all over America; it’s more of an unspoken offering of understanding. But it gets results.
The film uses Buck’s story to make universally relevant points about the power of empathy and compassion. When we learn of Buck’s abusive upbringing, TV footage of his youthful self doing rope tricks takes on tragic proportions.
Whilst this remains reasonably captivating for its first hour, it kinda runs out of steam after that, suggesting there wasn’t quite enough to justify a full-length movie. Watching Buck run his workshops is entertaining, only up to a point, but his story remains a heartfelt exploration of a gentle soul and a relevant reminder to be nice to the animals.