Rated 4.0

Director Cindy Meehl follows Dan “Buck” Brannaman, the original horse whisperer, as he spends nine months of his year on the road, giving four-day clinics for horses and their people. As Brannaman works with horses and shows their human owners how to communicate in terms the animals can understand and respond to, Meehl paints a warm and bracing picture of what Robert Redford calls Brannaman’s “gentle humanity.” That humanity was hard-won, after a brutalized childhood at the hands of his abusive father, until Buck and his brother were rescued by authorities. The mention of that brother exposes a hole in the story. We learn he’s still alive, but that’s all; with a little more of that half of the story this might have been a great documentary. Still, it leaves us with a sense that we’ve made a new friend.