Secretariat | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper



A sunny tale of the big horse that won big races



The titular star is the famous race horse who ... well, if you don't know who Secretariat was, I'll leave you to discover it in Randall Wallace's sun-dappled story, set in the early 1970s. The horse matters, but the real star is its owner, Penny Chenery (Diane Lane). (For once, the star of a Disney inspirational is a middle-aged woman!) In a time and a sport that frowned on women participating, Chenery (politely) fights to keep her father's horse farm and to train Secretariat, whom she believes is a champion. In her corner, a sartorially challenged trainer (John Malkovich) and her dad's faithful assistant (Margo Martindale). Even knowing the outcome, and despite the film's obvious staginess, I found the story engaging, and Wallace did his best to make the race scenes exciting. This is the genteel side of horse-racing -- all pretty hats and roses, with no big piles of poopie, unnecessary profanity or unseemly gambling. Starts Fri., Oct. 8.

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