What is it with female sexuality and horses? Of Girls And Horses is far from the first movie to thematically link the two, and indeed in lesbian-themed movies it’s almost a mini sub-genre of its own.
Alex is a 16-year-old whose life in on a fast track to nowhere. She’s dropped out of school and has little time for authority. In the hope of setting her straight, her mother signs her up for an internship where she will help to look after horses, deep in the countryside. Riding instructor Nina attempts to rein in Alex’s indolence, something that isn’t easy, especially when she discovers the teenager has been stealing from her. Things don’t initially improve after the posh Kathy arrives, who seems Alex’s polar opposite.
However, caring for the horses helps to bring all three women together. Then, when Nina goes away for the weekend in the hope of being able to rekindle her relationship with her partner, Christine, unexpected things happen between the teenage girls, which leads to a crisis at the stables.
Of Girls And Horses is the sort of film that’s difficult for me to review, as I reckon it’s the kind of movie that quite a few people will enjoy an awful lot and they’ll appreciate director Monika Treut’s lyrical, rural journey into the lives of these four women. However, it never really hooked me – maybe it’s because I don’t get the wonder of horses and their apparent link to sexuality.
I think my problem was that in its attempt to be a quiet film, where mood, atmosphere and gesture are far more important than dialogue, I felt there were large holes being left in the characters. Some will be able to fill those gaps in with their own experiences and emotions, but it didn’t really work for me and, to be honest, I found much of it rather dull.
I certainly didn’t think it was a complete disaster and there was much to appreciate, from the careful (if slow) building of the story, to the wonderfully evocative creation of its rural idyll, where nature and the sounds of the countryside become as much of a character as the women.
I wish I could be more positive, as when I was watching it I constantly felt that it was a movie I ought to like more, but it simply didn’t click for me. Even the aspect of the women’s sexuality, with two different age groups exploring the issues they face, wasn’t as engrossing as perhaps it ought to have been, perhaps because the movie’s refusal to allow the characters to talk all that much left me feeling as if I don’t know quite how they got there, or where they’ll go from there. Although it works in the moment, for me it wasn’t quite enough.
Overall Verdict: Despite a wonderfully lyrical and filmic take on nature and rural life, for me Of Girls And Horses was a collection of interesting ideas and characters that left too much unspoken to fully come together.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac