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Ride Like a Girl

Ride Like a Girl (Rachel Griffiths, 2019) wr. Andrew Knight, Elise McCredie, dp Martin McGrath; Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton; Michelle Payne biopic

Michelle Payne rode Prince of Penzance to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015.

The film is financially the most successful Aussie feature in 2019, making >$10mill, tho hit with the knacking 'scandal' late in its theatrical run.

... the Transmission Films release co-starring Sam Neill as Payne’s father Paddy and her brother Stevie Payne as himself will overtake Palm Beach’s $4.4 million this weekend and will zoom past Top End Wedding’s $5.2 million and Storm Boy[2]'s $5 million. Exhibitors are confident the film is heading for upwards of $10 million and could reach Ladies in Black’s $12 million. Don Groves, in IF mag.

Lisa Dethridge in The Conversation:
Griffiths successfully adapts to her first role as director and maintains tight rein on her crew. Showing knowledge and experience of Hollywood narrative techniques, she calls the shots with confidence. The story blends classic Hollywood storytelling with Australian feelgood family fare. ... this is the stuff parents have been waiting for. A fascinating rite-of-passage for a gutsy heroine; all the pageantry of the sport of kings, with a gorgeous local cast playing the real-life Payne family of champions. Griffiths makes sure our hearts warm as two outsiders, Michelle and brother Stevie, overcome all odds to achieve their international Melbourne Cup victory.

Sandra Hall in The Age:
We may one day have a film that exposes the rough underside of the Australian horseracing industry but Ride Like a Girl isn’t it. There’s nothing forensic about Rachel Griffiths’ biopic of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. It’s in the National Velvet tradition with a discernible trace of Cheaper by the Dozen as well. ... It’s a throwback to the kind of films Australia was making in the 1970s and 1980s. Michelle and her brother, Stevie, who has Down Syndrome, are great fans of Simon Wincer’s 1983 movie, Phar Lap, which Griffiths may well be taking as her model. Phar Lap re-cast the fable of the Ugly Duckling as a horse story - while this one is a classic tale about a close relative – the underdog.

Garry Gillard, blog entry:
Cinema is an industry. Its income depends on the number of people paying for films, which logically depends on their popularity. Which in turn depends on the extent to which it conforms to the expectations (of a film) of a large number of people. Their mores include things they really care about (sport, money, life and death, nationalism—perhaps in that order) and things they think they should be seen to care about because of political correctness (indigenous issues, feminism, animal welfare).

This year’s top Aussie film has had an exemplary ride. It did very well at the box office, making far more millions than any other in 2019 … until the scandal hit the media. Never having thought about it, people were shocked to discover that horsemeat is being used for pet food. Not only that, people were actually killing the horses first.

The film will still finish first, but now rather ignominiously. I expect there will be demonstrations on AACTA awards night, and that people will say disparaging (or defensive) things about the racing industry in their speeches.

Footnote. What is done to racehorses during their working lives is far worse than what happens to them in the minutes before their deaths.

Update. I was wrong. I also lose if I bet on a horse race. RLaG was nommed for Best Film (etc.) but didn't win anything.

Garry Gillard | New: 4 October, 2019 | Now: 2 October, 2020