27 February 2019 | JvH48
Visually attractive but I failed interest in what the main protagonists did
Saw this at the Berlinale 2019, where it was part of the official Competition for the golden bear. While not winning the 1st Prize, the jury awarded a Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution, for Rasmus Videbæk who was responsible for the cinematography. Be that as it may, however, the movie failed to interest me in the protagonists and their behavior. Shots of landscapes, rivers, nature and (of course, given the title) the horses were more interesting than what the actors said and did. So, it could have been a nice watch but that is never my prime reason to see a movie.
In particular, the frequent switching between 1999 and 1948 annoyed me several times. It broke the logic flow in the story line. Luckily, it was clear with every flash back/forward in which time frame we were, due to other actors playing the younger variants. For me it remained unclear from start to finish what it was that the protagonists did tick, and why they did what they did. I cannot imagine that the fatal Cain/Abel scene, where a young boy inadvertently shot his brother, can have such a long term bearing on everyone actions, but what do I know??
Maybe the underlying book is better in explaining the psychology driving these people's actions, but I missed it dearly here. It is even very well possible that the Cain/Abel scene was not so important after all, but that it was the woman he had eyes on but who was in fact courted by his father. I wonder, due to suggestions in that direction in the announcement on the Berlinale website, but I can recall only a single scene from memory to more or less confirm this plot element.
All in all, despite the visual elements to make it a nice watch, I failed to get interested in the story or the psychology of the protagonists. I see hints in various reviews that there is more substance than I could derive from it. Such things can happen during a festival where one sees three of four movies per day.