SECRETARIAT Review

I didn't do much research before going in to 'Secretariat', but I did enough to know he won the Triple Crown in 1973 and was the first to do so in twenty-five years. I didn't feel this would greatly interfere with the suspense of the movie seeing as those who are probably going to see a film about a race horse would most likely know more of the facts than I did. It is amazing what Secretariat accomplished in the racing world, but that is not really what this film is about. It is about the owner, the woman, Penny Chenery, who, against everyone else's suggestions keeps believing in Secretariat. Diane Lane plays her with great conviction no matter how many cliched inspirational pieces of dialogue she is forced to spit out. Lane anchors the film with her performance though, under any lesser hands it would have turned into a cheesefest, but instead in the most Disney of ways she makes this a heartwarming tale we can't help but smile at. This is a feel-good movie and it plays that card to its hilt. There is one particular moment in the film where Chenery is standing, watching all the people she loves dancing and laughing with one another. It is one of those cumulative moments that is hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it. That is what this movie is though, it is a movie of moments which does lead to some pacing issues in the beginning. It isn't terribly noticeable, but until we get into the real knitty gritty of the races something is just a bit awkward and there were certainly some unnecessary dialogue insertions that elicited some laughs, but despite knowing how everything will turn out I was still in suspense and excited, if not to see Secretariat run, but for the beautiful racing footage that Director Randall Wallace and his team captures of these creatures fully invested in the moment. Something is to be said for John Malkovich as well who stole every scene he was in in 'RED' and here as the flamboyant trainer Lucien Laurin he gives the film a light humorous touch that saves the film from completely drowning in its own sap. Malkovich, as he did in the aforementioned film, drops in from time to time and simply makes the film more enjoyable. His interactions with everyone around him make you laugh because you are unsure of what he will and won't say. Needless to say I enjoyed his bits most about the film, but don't exclude a solid supporting cast that keep subplots having to deal with family and money going in a way that doesn't leave to much story solely on the horse races. 'Secretariat' is the movie you probably expect it to be when you buy your ticket, and that isn't a bad thing, it truly is a little inspirational and I was never not entertained while watching it, but I did occasionally find myself wondering things outside of the film...so not completely enthralling, but let's just say it bested my expectations.