Billy Bob Thornton is an excellent director, who enjoys wide popularity among people. Billy Thornton continues his work as a director in a beautiful film “All the Pretty Horses”. He made a screen version of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. The leading roles play Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, Lucas Black and Penelope Cruz. Matt Damon gives a superb portrayal of the main character, who under the circumstances leaves Texas and travels to Mexico. He faces all the difficulties and dangerous situations without any fear. He hopes to live like a real cowboy in the wild plains.
The two most wonderful things about this film are the following: with this film Billy Bob Thornton has achieved even more success that with his directorial debut “Sling Blade” and he has proved that Matt Damon is really a talented actor. Bob Thornton creates true-to-life images and Matt Damon brings to life everything the director had planned. Matt Damon is cast to advantage in this film. He had a great responsibility because Cole, as the main character, forms the entire film and Matt Damon has coped with the task perfectly. He managed to penetrate thoughts and feelings of the mind character. On screen we see what his character could have felt or thought in certain situation and know that Damon not plays but lives the life of his character. The screen version of the famous novel is a touching love story with interesting and enjoyable subject line.
The opening scene reproduces us people’s life in post-war Texas. John Grady Cole starred by Matt Damon and Lacey Rawlins started by Henry Thomas are two old childhood friends.
Cole’s Hollywood-bound mother has sold the family’s ranch in Texas and Cole has no another choice as to find his happiness in some other place. Together with his childhood friend he starts his long trip to Mexico to find place to stay and work there. Two friends search for the meaning of their lives. They are young, brave, they have nothing to lose and they are fond of adventures. That’s how these two young men set out on horseback and start their journey.
Along their way John and Lacey meet Blevins, who also has nothing to lose. Bleyins is starred by Lucas Black. He always causes a lot of troubles and sometimes it seems that troubles are following him.
Nevertheless, two friends take him with them on their journey to Mexico. Soon Blevins has a possibility to show what he can do and confirm his potential for trouble. In a thunderstorm he loses his horse, weapons and even clothes. Now the adventurers have only two horses for three of them. Now it’s necessary to find the third horse to continue the trip but this search all in all have unexpected consequences. Finally, Cole and Rawlins get rid of Blevins.
The two friends find the job on the state of Senor Rocha starred by Ruben Blades. Rocha is very rich, he is a millionaire and has businesses in Mexico City. Two friends get difficult job of taming wild mules in Rocha’s hacienda. The job is difficult and dangerous, but that is exactly what two young adventurers seek. The owner of the farm, Senor Rocha has a beautiful daughter, Alejandra. The role of Alejandra is played by Penelope Cruz. Soon two friends become very popular because they are very successful in taming wild mustangs. They become living legends of the farm.
The high intrigue starts when Alejandra falls in love with John Cole. He falls in love with her from the first sight. He is stunned by her fairy beauty. Of course, their love can cause only troubles and difficulties. Their love incurs anger of all her family, her father is furious. She is sent away and Cole has no idea where she is. Blevins, their troublesome friend, appears again and he is arrested as a horse thief. Cole and Rawlins are arrested for the crime they haven’t committed. They find themselves in prison. In Mexico the laws are very strict and you won’t find the way out if you are imprisoned.
The only thing that is left is Alejanda’s reputation. To lose it means to lose everything for her. Certainly, it will destroy the relations with her father. Cole knows about it. Some aunt told him about that at the hacienda but all in all Cole can’t repress his feelings. He finds courage to see her just one more time.
One of the best things of this film is an excellent directing. Billy Bob Thornton has chosen the most appropriate scenery and land. The land of South Texas and Mexico is just for two friends, who are looking for better lives and are dreaming to become cowboys. Everything, every detail is so as it must be in the Wild West: the building are small, the roads are dusty, Eldorado is always behind friends’ backs. Another wonderful thing about the film is its close connection with the reality. Feelings and emotions are real. The film is organized so that we can see the development of relations. We can see that John Grady Cole and Lacey Rollins’ friendship is real.
From the other point of view this film is a kind of anachronism. Nowadays Texas is crowded with oil companies. Everyone is looking for some kind of profit and here appear two cowboys who are searching the life’s meaning. This situation is a bit inappropriate.
The film contains a lot of episodes of cowboys riding across a city and dessert; horses galloping around the area and again cowboys riding and riding. If to take into account this fact, this film seems dull for some critics and spectators. Even the description of Cole’s and Alejajndra’s love is rather static. There is not much dialogue in the film. Their falling in love is in slow motion with horses in the background.
All in all, the film makes double impression on people. Some are absolutely delighted by the excellent director’s works, while others are disappointed because there is not much dialogue and action in the film. The lack of dialogs is common for westerns and lack of action is a doubtful because subject line of the movie is interesting and shows the spirit of the epoch along with the development of the main characters.
More than two hundred years ago William Wordsworth said: “an author who wants to please the public is under a sort of implied engagement that he will “gratify certain known habits of association.” If anybody wants to break these habits: “he must create the taste by which he would be enjoyed.”(Wordsworth, 69)
If you want to see the real action this film is not for you. The lack of action and dialogue is compensated by the good directing work. Adaptation of Cormac McCarthy novel isn’t an easy task but Billy Bob Thornton copes with this task and finds the necessary approach.
While Matt Damon’s acting is wonderful, Penelope Cruz in this film is nothing out of common. The film presents one of the most beautiful cinematography of the year. It has a lasting impression and it is really worth seeing. Everybody can find something for him in this film. For people who have read the novel by Cormac McCarthy it will be even more interesting, because directing work is really good and they can find something new or even see the main characters from another point of view. It’s a good film, not without flaws, of course, but these flaws don’t change the entire impression.
Wordsworth, William. The Complete Poetical Works, New York, Bartleby, 1999