All the Pretty Horses



Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 3 Stars

A few quick facts about the movie: 
1)  All the Pretty Horses the film is almost a literal adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy.  Director Billy Bob Thornton clearly demonstrates his love for the source material by including all McCarthy's major scenes and much of his subtlety.
2)  The performances are first rate.  Matt Damon checked his Harvard image at the door.  Sure he's stretched himself in the past, but I believe that with The Talented Mr. Ripley and All the Pretty Horses, Damon has established himself as that rare actor capable of critical and box office acclaim.  In this film his southern accent is convincing.  I never doubted for a minute that he was John Grady Cole. 
You might be happy to see child star Henry Thomas (E.T.) in a serious role as sidekick Lacey Rawlins.  Thomas embodies everything I remember from the character in the novel.
Also, they found the perfect match for the psychopathic teenager Blevins.  Lucas Black handles each scene from the novel perfectly.  Remember the thunderstorm scene?  Black nails it.
Penelope Cruz plays the love interest.  It's refreshing to see a truly attractive woman who can also act (Catherine Zeta Jones step aside).  
3)  Many viewers (including myself) struggled with the age differences between the McCarthy novel and the Thornton movie.  Looking back, I think both ages are wrong.  McCarthy has Cole, Rawlins and Blevins at approximately 16, 17 and 13 respectively.  We run into an interpretive problem deciding how old Thornton intended his characters to be.  However, we do know that actors Damon, Thomas and Black are 30, 29 and 18.
The funny thing is that, somehow, it didn't really matter that much to me after digesting both versions of All the Pretty Horses.  Thornton's devotion to the novel, and the fact that his character's ages are left to the viewers imagination was enough for me to soak in the movie and think about the meaningless details afterwards.