On the set of the film “The Horse Whisperer,” Buck Brannaman said to Robert Redford, “If this movie thing doesn’t work out for you, I think you could make a living doing this.” Redford may be good with horses and good at making films, but it’s the title subject of the documentary “Buck” that’s the real horse whisperer.
In 20 minutes, Buck gentled his horse through a tender scene with Scarlett Johansson. The equine actor cast in the role couldn’t pull it off in eight hours.
Redford said he could tell that Buck was the real deal almost as soon as he met him. What makes this man and the movie “Buck” so appealing is his tone as much as his capability with horses.
A fellow horseman said, “I’ve never actually seen him whisper to a horse,” but in every clinic Buck gives for 40 weeks per year, everyone sees him being firm but gentle. He disciplines but encourages. In remarkably little time he translates his mastery into a “soft feel.”
Buck uses a tag line familiar from “The Horse Whisperer”: Asked if he helps people with horse problems, the reply, “I help horses with people problems.” The film, “Buck,” puts just the right amount of emphasis on his childhood. His abusive father beat him and his brother for years until a coach at school and a sheriff found out and stopped it.
This born-to-be cowboy knows he learned from his past. He made choices. He’s been sharing those choices for decades, and you don’t need to be a horse person to feel uplifted by the opportunity to spend 90 minutes watching “Buck.”