On paper, the film All the Pretty Horses seemed like a sure-fire Oscar winner. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton, the film featured A-list actors Penelope Cruz and Cormac McCarthy novel and given a decent budget, there was no way this film could flop. But it did and badly I might add. Having seen the movie a few times, I’m here to defend the film.
There’s nothing wrong with All the Pretty Horses. Director Thornton originally attended for the movie to run close to four hours (a la Gods and Generals) but the production company forced him to chop it up and condense it two and a half hours. When you consider that, you can see that the movie clearly has some gaps and none of that is Thornton’s fault. The movie is well-written, perfectly acted and exquisitely shot. One of it’s best features is that in many of the film’s key scenes there is little dialogue, only acting. Ah, the way film used to be.
Penelope Cruz is actually underutilized in her role and would have loved to have watched more from her. Broken English or not, she is a top notch actor, case in point her work in all the Almodovar films. And while many will complain that the film could have used more work in the plot development –– two cowpokes go south to Mexico, find work, find love, get framed, hell ensues ––– there’s little to argue with here. The only real qualm is that Matt Damon is supposed to be a 17-year-old and nothing about his presence in the film resembles that of a 17-year-old. If you’ve seen the film and want to argue, feel free, if you haven’t seen it, NetFlix it, then come back here and argue with me. Happy watching!
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