The McLaughlin horse ranch in Wyoming is struggling, and when 16 year old Katy (Alison Lohman) finds and befriends a wild, ebony mustang, calling her Flicka, her father Rob (Tim McGraw) wants nothing to do with it - and finally sells Flicka to a rodeo, much to Katy's distress. She loves the ranch life, and knows she can tame Flicka without restricting her freedom. Her brother Howard (Ryan Kwanten) wants to leave Wyoming for college, while her mother Nell (Mario Bello) is anxious to keep the family together. But when Katy defies her father and masquerading as a young rodeo rider enters the mustang race, she endangers not only her safety but her family's unity.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With Flicka, young ladies who weren't in the market for Brokeback Mountain get their own chance to drool over the wide open spaces and awe-inspiring mountains of Wyoming, if they can avert their gaze from the gorgeous horses, that is. This enduring story of a friendship between a teenager and a wild mustang has legs simply because it's a good story. It's relatively simple, but not simplistic, and touches emotions that we all understand, from the bond between Flicka and her human friend, Katy (Alison Lohman), to the conflict over the family's finances and the future of the ranch. Katy's brother Howard (Ryan Kwenten) also has to gather the guts to tell dad he's not staying on the ranch to help, but going off to college and the wider world.
All these issues add texture to the central story and make each decision more important by its linkage to each other. The cast delivers compelling characters, with Tim McGraw handy as the stern but genuinely warm hearted father who has to make some tough decisions, and Maria Bello lovely and warm as his wife. Alison Lohman's central role carries the film, and she manages to play young enough (just) after playing a young woman 10 years or so older in Where The Truth Lies (2005). Rising Australian star Ryan Kwenten (Vinnie Patterson in Home and Away from 1997 till 2005) is excellent as Howard and is set for more work in the US, notably in Dead Silence, directed by fellow Aussie James Wan of Saw fame.
Flicka engages and entertains, production values are top notch - cinematography is excellent without being flashy - and matches its teenager-befriends-horse expectations to a tee.
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CAST: Tim McGraw, Maria Bello, Alison Lohman, Ryan Kwanten, Daniel Pino, Dallas Roberts, Kaylee DeFer
PRODUCER: Gil Netter
DIRECTOR: Michael Mayer
SCRIPT: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner (novel by Mary O'Hara)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: J. Michael Muro
EDITOR: Andrew Marcus
MUSIC: Aaron Zigman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sharon Seymour
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 4, 2007
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.