Projections - Movie Reviews

All the Pretty Horses All the Pretty Horses

Once we leave the soft big dark eye in the opening scene, we realize All the Pretty Horses is a cowboy movie.  John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and his pal Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) are far from the hero western stars like Roy Rogers who married Dale Evans two years before the films 1949 setting.

John Cole begins his trek south of the border with his best pal Lacey Rawlins, when the ranch he has spent his life on is sold out from under him.  The two have a treacherous run in with Belvins (Lucas Black) and the volatile teenager brings more danger and trouble to the them than Cole's affair with Alejandra (Penelope Cruz), the daughter of a wealthy Mexican land holder (Ruben Blades), does.

From Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, we follow the two young men who hope to find a place where cowboy dreams continue to exist.  The road block come from their new reluctant friend Belvins who has questionable ownership of his horse.  To add to the difficulties Cole begins an affair with Alejandra, a rich man's daughter playing way out of his league.

With a limited story, we find that the scenic landscape, the horses and the performances carry the film.  What plays beautifully in words and sets images in our mind, can't help appear abridged as the reality of the settings on film settle in.  Cole's description, "Down in Mexico they got ranches so big you can't ride from one end to the other in a week.  It ain't all fenced in and sold off and played out, not down there," is beautifully presented by director of photography Barry Markowitz and the performances are more real than over the top, which appears to be a trade mark of director Billy Bob Thornton.

The promotion of the film as a love story is misleading; as the title suggests, the difficulties the cowboys face have far more to do with horses than Alejandra.  And Dona Alfonsa's (Miriam Colon) warnings are far easier to ignore than the activity of the Mexican police who look down upon those who are accused of stealing horses.

Overall we see John Grady carefully and powerfully meander through the danger of loving the wrong woman, befriending an unstable teen and his own determination to own and control All the Pretty Horses.

All the Pretty Horses

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