Movie Review: War Horse

Here’s the thing. I write up these little movie reviews on my blog, but I know full well I could never be a movie critic in real life. This is because I have absolutely no ability to look at things with an unbiased critical eye. For instance, I know on some level that War Horse is a classic Oscar-bait movie, perfectly calculated to tug at your heart strings (and make Academy members vote for it for Best Picture). I also know there are some cliches (okay, lots of cliches) strewn throughout the film. But…I don’t care. I cried when I saw this movie. I thought it was beautiful. Therefore, I will now give it an overwhelmingly positive review, constructive criticism be damned. At least I’m self-aware, right?

So. The movie. As I mentioned, I loved it. I thought it started too slowly, but it really picked up steam as it went on. In the beginning, it was a little too much of “can our horse plow this field?” and “will inexplicably evil Professor Lupin kick us off our farm?” But, once it got to the war, I loved it. It was fascinating how the horse changed hands, going from English to German to French and back again. And I loved all the different characters that were introduced along the way because of this, particularly the little French girl and her grandfather. Their storyline was so lovely and sweet and heartbreaking.

I also thought Jeremy Irvine, as Albert, the boy looking for his horse, was so fantastic. I’m having a hard time describing it, but the way he conveyed his pain about being separated from the horse (Joey) was really wrenching. And I also liked the depiction of the bond between Albert and Joey. Who knew how profound someone’s relationship with their horse could be? And who knew just how hard it would be to watch the horse go through so many ordeals (seriously, at points, I wanted to shield my eyes because I didn’t want to watch the horse in pain).

Also, this isn’t something I usually comment on – or think much about – but the cinematography was so spectacular in this movie. It’s Spielberg’s usual cinematographer (Janusz Kaminski), and all I have to say is that the dude deserves a raise. All the scenes were gorgeously shot, especially the ones on the farm. The ending, especially, had the loveliest lighting – an amazing orange/red glow. It was like a painting.

Ultimately, things like the cinematography and the score (also beautiful) really reinforce the fact that this is a wonderfully done Oscar picture. Everything was so classy and well-crafted that I couldn’t help but admire and love the film. So go see it. And wear waterproof mascara.

My grade: A


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