"This was a film about the indisputable fact that you will never know if you can do something until you try, and the process was an indisputably good journey to watch. "
Secretariat, despite having the slightly polarising theme of horse racing and breeding, a theme of which I myself have no great knowledge or interest in was still highly enjoyable and exciting. At the core of the film was the timeless tale of following your heart, your convictions and your passion, despite all odds, all negative reactions and doubts, so that you can be the person at the end of the day who says, "I knew it would work, and I was right", and to truly relish in that feeling. As the audience I did truly relish that feeling for Diane Lane, her brilliant portrayal of housewife turned horse breeder/racer, made me thank my lucky stars that I do not live in a world where a woman is expected to have no ambitions beyond the home and fails to receive the support of her husband when she does. Every step of her journey was portrayed as humbly as it was emphatically, right the way through the film, until the it's unbelievable finale. This was a film about the indisputable fact that you will never know if you can do something until you try, and the process was an indisputably good journey to watch. It's a Disney feel good film that although unbelievably saccharine in parts is made up for by the fact that the story has to be believable as it's a true one.
Perfectly cast, Diane Lane, plays the 1960's housewife Penny Chenery so convincingly that she literally feels like she is from that time. Her grace, her manners, her posture, even her pretty but no nonsense facial expressions, make you feel like you are watching an original episode of I love Genie, or the Brady Bunch. However this is in no way a disservice to Diane, on the contrary, it is a testament to how well she inhabited this role, and quite frankly, she stole the show!
Based on a remarkable true story, Secretariat chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner. Housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) agrees to take over her dying Father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. Against all odds, Chenery, with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin played by a magnificently flamboyant John Malkovich, manages to rise above and ultimately succeed in the male-dominated business, fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time.
The rest of the cast are perfectly assembled too, and we have some remarkable cameo's from TV favourites such as Dylan Walsh from TV's Nip Tuck, as Penny Chenery's disapproving husband Jack Tweedy, and Nelsan Ellis who plays Lafayette Reynolds in HBO's True Blood as Eddie Sweat, Secretariats loyal stable man and lifetime friend of the Chenery family.
As much as some people may criticize this film for its typical Disney like quality, with it's tendency for smoothing over adversity and focusing on triumph, I feel there are just enough real moments of sadness and hopelessness to save the film from pure cheese. Also lets not forget this is a film about a wealthy family, in a wealthy part of the world, racing horses, not exactly a paupers sport, so do not expect this to be an Erin Brokovich or The Blind Side kind of story as we are used to seeing our Bio Pics. This is a story of triumph in it's own world, and should be treated as such. However it is a true story none the less and a remarkable one at that, which I think has a magical quality of disbelief that reminded me that sometimes real life is stranger than fiction, and in a world where the really gritty films get all the praise, sometimes there's nothing wrong with a little feel good, light relief.
SECRETARIAT will hit UK Cinemas on the 10th December 2010