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Review: Buck

A Rough Cowboy with a Gentle Soul



How can a documentary about a guy who trains horses be so engaging, interesting, and inspiring? Well the answer is Buck Brannaman, a cowboy and a real “horse whisperer.” Brannaman travels the country for most of the year, every year, to help train horses without using intimidation or abuse, and make their owners understand these animals. And a lot of the time, if there is a problem with a horse, there is a problem with the owner. He makes people and their horses pay attention to his methods in order to help not one, but both of them. Buck introduces us to a man who truly believes with kindness, patience, and understanding, you can achieve anything and he proves it with the horses and the way he lives his own life.

Brannaman comes from a childhood of abuse by his father. And he reveals how brutal it was and how much worse it got once his mother passed away. Director Cindy Meehl is able to bring a lot of insight in to how Brannaman becomes the man he is today. He manages to escape his father and his adopted in to a loving home where he slowly begins to trust again and begins to learn about horses and how special they are in his life. As the audience, we go on a journey and we see some of his very first seminars and watch him grow in to the man who can do phenomenal work and make miracles happen when it comes to horses and their behavior. And there is even an interesting part in Buck where he helped out on the film, The Horse Whisperer, and the impact he had on Robert Redford and his film is amazing.

Meehl makes you care about someone you have never met before, and that’s what documentaries are capable of doing if done right. She reveals an ordinary man who has an extraordinary gift. Brannaman knew violence wasn’t the answer to anything, and he made the decision to cut it out of his life once and for all. And that is why you don’t have to love horses to love this film. It is so much more than just about horses and the unique training by Brannaman. It is about life and the choices we make that lead us to where we are today. The documentary is full of life lessons and about being a better person.

Buck is mesmerizing and heartfelt. Brannaman is at the center of it all and it is fascinating to watch him do what he does, but his story runs deep and you cannot help but take a liking to the man himself. You are left thinking about his strength that got him through his most terrible times, and his dedication and love that made him the very best “horse whisperer” anyone has ever seen. By the end of this documentary, you realize Brannaman is a gifted guy in several ways, and no one is more grateful of the opportunity that was given to him than he is. And I am grateful someone brought him and his story to the big screen. He deserves it.