I just saw Secretariat today via Netflix. I didn’t see it while it was in the theaters – not sure why – just didn’t. After seeing it on my TV, though, I really wish I had seen it on the big screen first. What a thrill it would have been to see that beautiful, powerful animal bigger than life on a wall-sized screen.
I knew I wanted to see this movie, at some point. I knew it would be a good story with interesting characters and a strong cast. I knew it would be emotionally charged. But, I what I didn’t realize was just how much I would love it! It was an incredible movie — beautifully told, exceptionally put together, and perfectly acted. I am very disappointed that it didn’t receive any Academy Award nominations — definitely a slight that should not have happened.
Of course, I knew how the movie would end. The history of this story is well documented. Plus, it occurred at the end of my junior year in high school, so I was well aware of the events through the news of the time. So, there were no real surprises. But, it still captivated me and kept me on the edge of my seat! My heart pounded as I watched each race in totally intense anticipation of the outcome, forgetting that the horse had the win “in the bag”. I sobbed through many of the scenes – the heart wrenching family related events, as well as the triumphs each race brought. But the true beauty of this movie was that it focused on family, legacy, tradition, and love. Yes, the main focus was the greatest racehorse that ever lived – Secretariat, but it also dug deep into what made Penny Chenery Tweedy so determined and driven to not give up even with the possibility of losing everything she held dear. Her love of the horses, her parent’s legacy, her dedication to family and tradition – all these things were portrayed impeccably and shined through to tell the entire story and pull it all together.
The casting was pure genius. Diane Lane was the perfect Penny Chenery Tweedy – strong and forceful, yet cultured and demure all in the same woman. John Malkovich was very entertaining as horse trainer, Lucien Lauren. Scott Glenn had a very small part as Penny’s father, Chris Chenery, who was weakened by dementia, but the influential man still shown through. Margo Martindale portrayed Miss Hamm, long time secretary and friend of the Chenery family. She was a real hoot at times, but also helped Penny identify her inner strength to know what the right thing to do was.
I really loved this movie. Again, I wish I had seen it on the big screen and perhaps I will someday. But, for now, I am just so very happy I didn’t pass it up altogether. I rate this one a huge A+++ and wish there was a higher rating to give it! Be sure to see it for the history, for the entertainment value, or just cause you love animal movies — whatever your reason for thinking you’ll enjoy it — you’ll be glad you did and probably find that you love it for several totally different reasons than the one that got you to choose it in the first place.