(out of 5)
Absorbing, superior adaptation of Nicholas Evans’ novel features Kristin Scott Thomas in top form as a frightened mother who is losing her daughter (Scarlett Johansson) to grief following a tragic accident that claims the life of the daughter’s best friend. Scott Thomas decides to take her daughter’s horse, injured severely in the accident as well, to an equine shaman (Robert Redford), hoping that the psychological survival of the animal will mean the emotional survival of her daughter; what she doesn’t count on is possible romance with the ‘horse whisperer’. The many levels of storytelling are managed beautifully in the seamless script by Richard LaGravenese and Eric Roth, who wisely keep out much of the annoying sexual overtones of the novel in favour of a more intellectual relationship between the two leads. Johansson is compelling as the burgeoning young woman, and Dianne Wiest is a natural as a rancher’s daughter turned rancher’s wife with big dreams of the world beyond.
Touchstone Pictures, Wildwood Enterprises
Directed by Robert Redford
Cinematography by Robert Richardson
Produced by Patrick Markey, Robert Redford
Production Design by Jon Hutman
Costume Design by Judy L. Ruskin