All the Pretty Horses (2000)
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Review Date: December 26, 2000
Director: Billy Bob Thornton
Writer: Ted Tally
Producers: B. B. Thornton, Robert Salerno
Matt Damon
Henry Thomas
Penelope Cruz
A couple of cowboy buddies head down to Mexico for a new life and some jobs. On the way, they meet a mysterious kid with whom they hang out for a while. Once settled into a ranch down South, one of the boys falls in love with the daughter of the ranch's owner. Cut to some time later, and the boys are taken to jail for certain activities. Once again, they run into the young boy from earlier on. So now the question is: will they get out of prison? Will they live or die? Will Matt Damon get to make out with Penelope Cruz? Therein, lies the film's various conclusions.
If you're prepared for a "slow cowboy" movie, then you're ready for at least one part of this film. If you're prepared to see many a majestic sight and be ho-hummed through various so-so details of a grander story, then you're ready for it all. I actually enjoyed the first part of this movie, with the good ol' cowboys straddling down to Mexico together, running into a little outlaw, getting into some adventures, but lo-and-behold, then came the "romance". Now I don't know if this so-called romance between Damon and Cruz is gonna work for anybody who sees this movie, but for me, it just didn't play out. These two characters barely had any screen time together, little chemistry, and their immediate love for one another just didn't come through for me. Of course, believing in the characters is the meat in most any story, so one part of the film was already lost for me. But then, there was a whole other part of the movie which dealt with the heinous murder of a character, who we were supposed to feel sorry for. Well, once again, I just didn't buy it! I thought that the character deserved to die. Maybe not the way that he did, but since that chunk of the film is based on us feeling "bad" for what happened to this character, another notch was carved out of my believability belt, right then and there.

So what does that leave us with? Well, to be honest, very little. The film was acted quite nicely, with Lucas Black, probably coming out the strongest, but no one else tipping the scale either way. The film also featured some of the most beautiful cinematography of the year, but with a clumsy story impressed underneath it, how much is that really worth? It's really strange too, because I was actually enjoying this picture till about the thirty minute mark, but then it got all jumbled up (I hear that the film was trimmed from its original four hours down to two. That might explain some of its disorder). In the end, the film just didn't "sell" me on any of its main plot points, went on for waaaaay too long (chalk it up to yet another "movie that never ends"), and seemed to get into various side stories (the whole prison scenario felt like another movie altogether and did we really need that whole "judge" sequence in the end?). And if you're only going to see this movie so that you could check out the gorgeous Penelope Cruz, you'd better hold your own horses at the ticker counter, cause this pretty lady barely shows up here, and utters even fewer lines. For more of her, check out WOMAN ON TOP (7/10), which features her all over the place as...said, woman on top. This movie might work for either those who read the book (I wouldn't know cause I haven't read it), enjoy watching Matt Damon grin real pretty or don't mind dazing in and out of consciousness while watching a picturesque epic. For all others, I suggest you tack this one on to the boatload of failed entries at this year's cattle call of Oscar snipers.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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