Movie Review - 'Secretariat' - It's About A Horse, So Of Course It's A Winner The story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner -- and of his determined owner, Penny Chenery, who rose to success despite the obstacles of the male-dominated racing industry -- stars Diane Lane in a restrained performance that keeps the script's sentimentalism in check.
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'Secretariat': A Horse, So Of Course It's A Winner

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'Secretariat': A Horse, So Of Course It's A Winner

Review

Movies

'Secretariat': A Horse, So Of Course It's A Winner

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Let's hear now from our movie reviewer, Kenneth Turan, about a movie featuring a horse that won the highest possible honor in the racing world, the Triple Crown.

KENNETH TURAN: "Secretariat" is a fairy tale about a horse. If you're in the mood for it, and in the mood for a strong and satisfying performance by Diane Lane, you are definitely in the right place.

This is the story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner, a horse that appeared on the cover of "Time" and "Newsweek."

Lane plays Penny Chenery, Secretariat's owner. Since the horse had few problems on the track, the film has chosen to focus on the difficulties Chenery had off it. She was a woman in a man's world, a woman no one believed in.

(Soundbite of movie, "Secretariat")

Unidentified Man: You're guaranteeing that this horse is going to win the Triple Crown - hasnt been done in 25 years.

Ms. DIANE LANE (Actress): (as Penny Chenery) That is exactly what Im saying.

Unidentified Man: You're that stubborn.

Ms. LANE: (as Penny Chenery) Im that right.

TURAN: Lane is an actress with an instinct for honesty, someone incapable of false moves. And her restrained, focused performance is a stabilizing force. In an unashamed movie that can't resist pushing too hard, having someone who pulls things back toward reality is more than welcome, it's essential.

As directed by Randall Wallace, "Secretariat" shows no fear of the sentimental - and that's putting it mildly. This is an old-fashioned, super genteel, family movie. Emotion-run-amok moments are inevitable, but things rarely go too far off the rails.

(Soundbite of horse race in movie, "Secretariat")

TURAN: Keeping things exciting are those Triple Crown races that Secretariat dominated in historic style.

(Soundbite of movie, "Secretariat")

Unidentified Man #2: ...he leads it by a length.

TURAN: When those pounding hoof beats come flying down the track, it's hard not to be happy that you are there to watch them fly.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for the Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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