In a nutshell
Buck travels the US nine months out of a year to sort out problems between people and horses, mostly caused by people. His own troubled childhood has given him insight into feeling lost, trapped and afraid for your life.
Mood of the film
Buck is a down-to-earth, what-you-see-is-what-you-get documentary about a young boy who could have gone "bad". His childhood was certainly violent enough to justify some bad choices. Due to an inner strength and a foster family that took him and his brother in, he surprisingly made all the right decisions.
After a troubled young horse attacks and splits open a trainer's head, Buck gently, but firmly, tells the owner she's to blame, as a horse is a mirror to the owner's soul.
Is the film relevant today?
In a society where people all too often make bad choices and comfortably blame their childhoods, Buck is a fresh breeze.
(Full review TBD)
Despite having a rough childhood, Buck grew into an inspiring, caring, and talented adult travelling around the country helping horses with people problems as opposed to helping people with horse problems. This film has as many heartfelt moments as intense ones. Buck is not just a cowboy in this documentary, he's a genius.
As a child, Buck and his brother faced many forms of abusive from their father. A drinker, and one not afraid to get physical, Bucks father instilled a tremendous amount of fear into Buck as a child. Brannaman felt as if his only protection was his mother. When she passed away, Buck felt like all of his protection had disappeared. Buck was eventually moved to foster care when his gym teacher saw the whip marks on his 7 year old back. His foster parents were loving and caring people like his mother and thankfully the abuse ended there.
It's possible that Bucks training style is a reflection of his past, a man who was abused understands the trauma and deep rooted feelings of worthlessness that come with such abuse. Buck knows that humans and horses don't differ too much and is possibly why he treats them the way he does. " Nobody's here to hurt you" he often tells them. He is also a fan of putting the horses first. " Rather than helping people with horse problems, I'm helping horse's with people problems."
The movie Buck is not only informative, but also entertaining. I have never considered myself and animal lover (although not a hater either) but this film really captured my attention and drew me to a topic I never had much interest in. A lot of that has to do with Buck as a person, but also with the way the film was made and the story told. The people he impacted, and the connections he had made through his craft is something to admire and strive for. There is no doubting that it was a journey for Buck, and this film not only highlights that, but inspires journeys for others.
"Buck" was timely for me as it represented what is in my heart at the moment. Wanting to enjoy each moment as they come. Not dwell on the past. Turn the negative things that have happened to me into positive things for the future. While the documentary did serve to tell Buck's story, as well as give insight into the amazing work he does as a horse trainer, it did much more. It displayed immense insight into fatherhood, parenting, patience and living for the positive things in our short lives.
While watching, I frequently thought of my estranged father-in-law, whom I believe would love this movie. Not only as a father, but also as a love for the roots of what makes a good cowboy.
"Buck" is a beautifully shot film with a captivating, heartwarming, as well as heartbreaking, story. I couldn't encourage seeing it more.
Buck Brannaman is a quiet, self-effacing hero. After seeing "Buck" and meeting the man briefly at a Q&A after a screening, I wouldn't hesitate to audit one of his training sessions to watch the man at work - and I've never owned a horse.