Secratariat poster


wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

Life of Penny Chenery and her horse Secretariat which went on to become a record setter back in 1973. Great story but unimpressive screenplay makes this one engaging for those who know about horses and horse races. Others can watch to find out about it.

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Director: Randall Wallace
Running time: 120 minutes
More Movie Info

Those of you who have seen horse racing in real life, and of course have heard about this much famed horse called Secretariat, will love this movie. Those of you who haven’t, this one shows the life of Secretariat and what happens on and behind the scenes at horse races.

Based on a true story, the movie is about Penny Chenery/Tweedy (Diane Lane) who, in her unwillingness to just sell off her father’s farm, ends up owning and breeding one of the greatest racehorses. A semi-retired trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) who took up the responsibility, does probably the best job that one could. And its groom Eddie Sweat (Nelson Ellis) who knew the thoroughbred for the longest time, handles him with the same dedication that he handled several other winning horses. The chestnut colt was one of the youngest horses to win races, and two of its records still stand today.

At a slightly clumsy pace, the movie is not exciting at all the times. It is slow and un-happening in large parts which one might as well sleep through. But the other extremely well-done sequences compensate for the glitches. The dialogues are just at par, with only a few good lines here or there. Most of the conversations fail to to engage, where they could have been phenomenal inspirational lessons. But then that is what makes the film look real and unexaggerated in the end.

I would have honestly loved to see better acting from Diane Lane, where she's more free and genuine. The forced dialogues and uncomfortable body language for a lead is a huge put off. Malkovich is apt in his little-crazy trainer role, which I am sure, comes from the real Lucien Laurin. The best is Nelson Ellis (Yes, Lafayette of True Blood), in his limited role gives precisely a father’s reflection as he grooms the much famed horse. Margo Martindale does justice to the father’s secretary, Miss Ham who has been around horses and races more than Tweedy and looks after the family. Appreciable was Otto Thorwarth who plays the horse’s jockey, who is a real life jockey and now wants to pursue acting.

I really enjoyed the second match seen on TV as the Tweedy family saw it. It was the recording of the actual race. Also the other races, which last for a short while but show real action. I also enjoyed the mute nuances, which said a lot more than any of its dialogues.

The movie is good if you can deal with the slow parts. It has a great story but lack of pace and directional competence will make this one a martyr. If you are really keen, then watch on screen.

This review is by guest reviewer Shweta Karwa. Shweta is studying engineering in Chemical Technology at UDCT, Mumbai. You can find her on twitter as @intelshwets

External reviews for this movie are not available

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

3 readers - 1 yays 2 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by monogrammed playing cards : 80

So-So, by Elbert Anderozzi : 60

So-So, by Raman Aurora

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

What Worked

  • Close up shots of the horses, faces and hooves.
  • Silent scenes which reinforce that actions are greater than words.
  • Long scene where Penny listens to her daughter on the phone, which was done in one shot.
  • Huge race courses and the feel they bring.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • Pushy dialogues, which said less and harmed more.
  • Forced movements of the lead character makes her look awkward.
  • Irregular flow of screenplay.
  • It did not leave you with a great feeling of being motivated.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Horse racing, Derby and Stakes. Kids might need little explaining beforehand.
  • General Look and Feel: Inspirational if you are looking for it.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Secratariat - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Music Director:
Running time:
120 minutes

Comments (1)

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Sounds similar to seabiscuit

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