Story by Jack Foley
DISNEY horse racing drama Secretariat is cut from the same cloth as the likes of Seabiscuit… only less inspiring.
The film is based on the true story of housewife turned horse manager Penny Chenery (played by Diane Lane) who, in 1973, led her horse, Secretariat, to The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing despite scepticism from those within the male dominated sport as well as her own husband (Dylan Walsh).
As directed by Randall (We Were Soldiers) Wallace, it’s a triumph against the odds story that appears to be going through the motions, ticking all the usual boxes without any real sense of urgency.
The film does have plus points, most notably in a typically robust and feisty lead performance from Lane and a refreshingly exuberant supporting one from John Malkovich (as Secretariat’s trainer who has a suitably colourful wardrobe to match his eccentricities).
While the horse racing scenes themselves are suitably exciting and shot in such a way as to best put you in the middle of the action.
But by adopting a play it safe approach and a leisurely pace, Wallace sugarcoats proceedings and layers on the worthiness, seldom really translating the urgency he brings to the racing action with the dilemmas placed before Chenery’s life. He also tinkers with historical fact at times which also feels unnecessary.
Hence, a film that bore all the hallmarks of a potential awards season thoroughbred (especially given it’s strong female role) ends up feeling like a forgettable also ran.
Running time: 116mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: March 28, 2011