Movie review / ‘Ride Like A Girl’ (PG)

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“Ride Like A Girl” (PG) ****

HORSES fall into many categories. The glamour ones, the racers, are all registered in a stud book open only to direct descendants of one of the Byerley Turk or the Godolphin or Darnley Arabians, stallions which in the late 18th century arrived in Europe from the Middle East. Many may be called, but only the elite few get chosen. 

Have you ever wondered what life in the horseracing world is really like? Rachel Griffiths’ debut feature film telling the story of Michelle Payne gives no place to the betting, fashion, or undercurrents of criminality that sometimes make press headlines. The connecting narrative forms a well-balanced account of a large family that loves horses and the youngest daughter’s skill and determination to succeed in what until relatively recently was a purely male domain.

Much has been written about the day in 2015, when Michelle became the first woman to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup. Playing her, Teresa Palmer is impressive. Sam Neill is untroubled in the role of her father Paddy. But what most gripped my compassion is her older brother Stevie who has Down syndrome and appears as her best friend and strapper. He’s now not only her partner in a horse-breeding venture but also is a natural in front of the camera.

Written by Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie, “Ride Like A Girl” tells a warm-hearted story, well modulated by smiles and laughter, not without griefs. But most of all, it’s a testament to Michelle’s physical and emotional strengths. While authenticity looms admirably large in the film, I mildly regret that title. My wife and stepdaughter have bred and educated horses simply because they love them. And horses’ role in the Europeanising of Australia goes far beyond any racetrack.

At all cinemas

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"Ride Like A Girl" (PG) ****
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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