Ride Like a Girl

 

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A touching story about a battle of wills to achieve success and acceptance. 

 
Ride Like a Girl

 

Literature abounds with the tales of horses, from Black Beauty and National Velvet to My Friend Flicka and Dead Cert, all of which were filmed. However, perhaps the horse reached its apotheosis in the plays and films of War Horse and Equus. Horses are fascinating creatures and liable to upstage any actor who performs with them. In Ride Like a Girl these equine creatures play their parts admirably well in what is a true story about Michelle Payne, the Australian jockey whose claim to fame is that she was the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup in its 155-year history.

 

It’s an affecting story told simply and sympathetically. Michelle is from a family of ten children, mostly all jockeys, living with their widowed father, racehorse trainer Paddy Payne. Michelle who, aged seven, predicted that she would win the Melbourne Cup, started racing at age fifteen. Four years on, however, she fell during a race, fractured her skull and bruised her brain. Miraculously she recovered and resumed her successful career, including winning that elusive Melbourne Cup.

 

First-time feature director Rachel Griffiths proves to be on course working with Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie’s screenplay which emphasises the sexist nature of the horseracing world, peopled mainly by macho men who have no time for females in the game. The title of the film sums up their put-down attitude, because whoever thought girls could ride, let alone win a race?

 

Teresa Palmer makes Michelle a strong contender who has to battle against her curmudgeonly father Paddy (Sam Neill) and the prevailing attitudes of the racing authorities. She is brilliantly supported by Stevie Payne, Michelle’s real-life Down Syndrome brother, acting as himself, and very slyly playing up the fact of his condition. He’s a good horse trainer and a very promising actor too. The horses throughout are tremendous.

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton, Stevie Payne, Brooke Satchwell, Magda Szubanski, Zara Zoe, Sophia Forrest, Shane Bourne, Mick Molloy.   

 

Dir Rachel Griffiths, Pro Rachel Griffiths, Richard Keddie and Susie Montague-Delaney, Screenplay Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie, Ph Martin McGrath, Pro Des Carrie Kennedy, Ed Jill Bilcock and Maria Papoutsis, Music David  Hirschfelder, Costumes Cappi Ireland.

 

Magdalene Media/The Film Company/Screen Australia/ Transmission Films-Lionsgate.

98 mins. Australia. 2019. DVD Rel: 10 August 2020. Cert. PG.