RIDE LIKE A GIRL Review —This Family-Friendly Film Trots Out the Girl Power

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Ride Like a Girl review — Critic Staci Layne Wilson, who is also an accomplished equestrian, says it’s a triple crown winner of a family flick.

Ride Like a Girl reviewRachel Griffiths, mostly known as an actor (Six Feet Under) directs a plucky Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) in Ride Like a Girl, the inspiring true story of jockey Michelle Payne’s legendary journey to her 2015 Melbourne Cup win. (Believe it or not, Payne was the first female to cross the finish line first in the race’s 154-year history!)

Australia is known as the country of origin for some of the most beloved horse movies ever made—Phar Lap, The Man from Snowy River, and The Silver Brumby to name a few. While the Thoroughbreds run a distant second to the humans in this tale, they’re depicted with realism and are filmed gloriously in some of the most gripping race scenes since Secretariat.

With a measured pace and restraint from theatrics or melodrama, first-time feature director Griffiths crafts a cinematic love letter to the single-parent household, the timeworn tradition of horse racing, and the triumph of one woman staying her course to win not only the race, but to set an example for young girls everywhere. Michelle is the youngest of 10 siblings in a family focused on horse-racing, and as such, she is determined to make a name for herself on her own terms.

The events leading up to the big race are gripping, to say the least. Payne had to literally learn to walk and talk all over again after a devastating fall in which she fractured her skull and bruised her brain. Her horse, Prince of Penzance, also had a history of injuries, but together they beat the odds and made history. There are many trials and tribulations sprinkled throughout this true tale, but none seem overwrought or manipulative (though I could have done without some of the feel-good songs set to montages).

Ride Like a Girl is a fully family-friendly film; There is no sex, guns, drugs and or violence.  I loved the delightful dynamic depicted between the characters thanks to a solid script by Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie. Sam Neill (Peaky Blinders) plays Michelle’s no-nonsense dad Paddy, while her loyal Downs Syndrome afflicted brother is Stevie Payne, who plays himself and shines brightly onscreen.

If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned sports drama to quicken your pulse and warm your heart, you cannot go wrong with Ride Like a Girl.

Rated PG

2 Hours

If this Ride Like a Girl review makes you want to gallop to the cineplex, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Ride Like a Girl review — Critic Staci Layne Wilson, who is also an accomplished equestrian, says it’s a triple crown winner of a family flick.

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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