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All the Pretty Horses

reviewed by Lynn Barker

Matt Damon on a horse for four hours! Ouch! This film was shot in '99 (Leo DiCaprio was originally going to play Matt's part) and when Director Billy Bob Thornton turned in his looooong Western, the studio said "Nope, Pard". So it was back to the cutting room and we finally have a "fanny friendly" two hour film.

In this "coming of age" western adventure set in 1949, young Texan cowboys JOHN GRADY COLE (Matt Damon) and best bud LACEY RAWLINS (Henry Thomas) climb on their ponies and hit the road to Mexican adventure after Cole's mom sells the family ranch. On their way to find cow punching work south of the border, the guys hook up with 15-year-old JIMMY BLEVINS, a misfit runaway who may have stolen the horse he's riding.

Blevins and the guys part company and Cole and Rawlins get jobs breaking horses at a huge Hacienda owned by big-time Latino rancher DON HECTOR ROCHA (Ruben Blades) who happens to have a bodacious daughter ALEJANDRA (Penelope Cruz). Cole falls hard for the hot tamale but the romance lands Cole and Rawlins in jail where they reunite briefly with the unlucky Blevins and have to grow up fast or die. It is Cole's honor and purity of spirit that pulls him through.

This critic grew up in the Southwestern United States and I see a lot of my dad in the Cole character. Matt Damon has the young Southwestern man down to a science. His earnest face, ache for adventure and "aw shucks" accent and attitude will make girls want to date him and guys want to make him their best bud. Also excellent is "E.T's now grown up little buddy Henry Thomas who is a cutie and quite wonderful as Damon's worried side-kick. Young Lucas Black whom you've probably seen in the X-FILES MOVIE or various stints on t.v., is both comic and pitiable as the drifter Blevins. Penelope Cruz is one hot senorita and it's nice to see the X-Files' new star Robert Patrick in a brief but effective scene as Cole's down-on-his-luck dad.

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, based on a best-selling novel, is about 3 young guys on the adventure of their lives. It's about love found and lost and above all, the high cost some young people must pay for honor. It you like Matt Damon or Penelope Cruz, beautiful skies or just a good coming of age adventure, go see this film. If you hate anything with horses in it, stay home.

Rated: PG-13

Directed by: Billy Bob Thornton
Screenplay by: Ted Tally (based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy) Starring: Matt Damon as John Grady Cole
Henry Thomas as Lacey Rawlins

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