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|April 16, 2001||
A ride to nowhere
There are two things worth seeing in All The Pretty Horses.
One: Horses. And they aren't even pretty. Or worth nearly two hours of screen time.
Two: The cinematography -- a treat for sore eyes.
Based on the award-winning and best selling novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses is set in 1949 and concerns two young Texans, Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) and John Grady Cole (Matt Damon, Saving Private Ryan and Good Will Hunting). They saddle up and ride across the Mexican border in search of adventure.
Along the way, they are joined by Jimmy Blevins (Lucas Black, Slingblade), a young teenage runaway with a valuable horse, unusual gun, an illogical fear of lightning and a major attitude.
Eventually, Cole and Rawlins find work on a massive ranch owned by Don Hector Rocha (Ruben Blades, Cradle Will Rock). While their abilities and knowledge of horses earn them the respect and admiration of Rocha and the ranch hands, it is Cole's association with Rocha's beautiful daughter (Penelope Cruz, Woman On Top) that earns them a stay in a brutal Mexican prison.
Will they get out of prison? Will they live or die? Will Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz live happily ever after?
The love story is as hot and steamy as yesterday's coffee. Ted Talley's (Silence Of The Lambs) screenplay is a meandering mess that leads to nothing. Watching All The Pretty Horses is like coming in and out of consciousness while watching a pictorial tribute to a bygone era. A boring tribute at that.
Director Billy Bob Thornton (Slingblade) doesn't convince us on any of the film's main plot points and gets into meaningless side stories. All The Pretty Horses goes on for too long (it was originally a four-hour movie that was chopped down to two) and goes nowhere.
Among the cast, Lucas Black is impressive as an energetic mass of aggression and frayed nerves. Penelope Cruz is there for the sole purpose of providing a brief love interest to the story. Even in this limited purpose, Damon and she share absolutely no onscreen chemistry.
Henry Thomas mumbles through the film and you hardly notice when he is or isn't there. Damon is convincing as a cowboy -- he has the drawl right and the cowboy hat does him justice -- but the screenplay doesn't offer much scope.
Give All The Pretty Horses a miss. Watch Discovery Channel instead.
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