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Secretariat movie poster

Secretariat: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG
Directed by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale, Kevin Connolly, James Cromwell, Scott Glenn, Dylan Walsh, Nestor Serrano, Nelsan Ellis, Fred Dalton Thompson
Released by: Mayhem Pictures

In Short: Your heart will rejoice by the time “Secretariat” runs his last race in this brilliantly conceived story of the greatest racehorse of all time.

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Racing with the Wind

Whether or not you are old enough to remember the amazing life of the wondrous racehorse named Secretariat really isn't important when it comes to watching this compelling movie. This winning biopic follows the story of Penny Chenery, a Denver housewife and mother whose life was changed forever when she returned to her family's Virginia horse farm in 1969 for her mother's funeral. Making matters worse, her father’s health was in decline due to Alzheimer's disease.

In a bold move, especially for a woman entering the completely male-dominated world of racing, Chenery decided to keep the farm going rather than sell it. It made for a tough family life, as she shuttled between Denver and Virginia. But she was determined, and when one of her mares foaled a beautiful red horse, history was about to be made.

Diane Lane and John Malkovich in Secretariat A still from Secretariat

In director Randall Wallace's gorgeously filmed adaptation of William Nack's best-selling book "Secretariat: The Making of a Champion," two parallel stories are told: Penny Chenery’s triumphant personal journey and that of Big Red, the incredible horse who eventually came to be known as Secretariat (spoiler alert!) and went on to win the Triple Crown in 1973 in a thrilling, record-smashing victory. And although it's clear from the very beginning that the horse will win, it is still an enjoyable journey to follow.

The cinematography of the film is truly beautiful and the acting is top-notch across the board, with Diane Lane giving an Oscar-worthy performance as Chenery and John Malkovich a true delight as the flamboyant trainer Lucien Laurin. And most of all, the thrill of the races is matched by the behind-the-scenes dramas; both combine and culminate in a heartwarming and enjoyable film about the horseracing legend that captured the imagination of millions back in the summer of 1973. Don’t miss this winner.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 02/08/11 NW)

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