Warning: this review contains major spoilers. But if you think about it, since it’s a true story so does Wikipedia. And in my opinion, knowing how it ends only adds to the experience of watching the movie. You can just enjoy the ride.
Last week I was able to see an advance screening of the Disney movie Secretariat that releases next month courtesy of BlogHer. The preview came on a day and week where the last thing I felt like doing was leaving my house, but I’m so glad I did.
When I told my husband what we were going to see, he had no interest in it. “There are ten other movies I’d rather see than this one,” he said, but that was because he had never heard of it. Then he looked it up online and I heard him say, “Oh, Diane Lane is in it?” His tone of voice was considerably more optimistic. “She’s the hottest older woman I’ve ever seen.”
The movie, of course, is about the famous racehorse Secretariat who won the Triple Crown (i.e. the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes) in 1973 and who is still widely considered to be the best of all time. For most people, what’s so great about this movie is that there is no anxiety about what is going to happen. Unfortunately for me, there was a LOT of anxiety considering I’m not what you would call a follower of horse racing and was confusing the story of Secretariat with the more recent tragedy of Barbaro, who won the Derby but broke his leg at the start of the Preakness and died as a result. The whole movie I was dreading Secretariat’s tragic death, thinking I just might sink into despair. But rest assured! I did tear up several times during the show, but it was all out of happiness.
Diane Lane plays the owner of Secretariat, Penny Chenery. As they arrive at the Kentucky Derby the trainer, played by John Malkovich, says to her something like, “I’ll handle the race, and you handle the reporters. This is as much a story about you as it is about the horse.” That line could be a summary of the movie. As an animal lover I of course fell in love with Big Red (as he was familiarly called–who knew the crazy names horses have were just for show? Not me.), but the best part was that he wasn’t owned by some jerk millionaire. Penny Chenery was a housewife who was literally betting her deceased parents’ farm because she believed in the horse that much.
I’m sure the writers probably took some liberties with the true story, but I don’t really want to know what they are. I loved this movie, so did my husband, and apparently so did the rest of the audience because they spontaneously erupted into applause several times and I clapped right along with them. It’s simply happy, and that is something I desperately needed. Because of the moment of joy it gave me during a tough time in my life, it will always hold a special place for me, and I already have plans to take my family to see it when it comes out for public release.
All images courtesy of IGN Movies.
Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to see this movie free of charge. However, I did end up spending my own money on popcorn and Coke, so there’s that. Also, I was not asked to blog about it and the opinions in this review are completely my own.