Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jun 16, 2011
    90
    In some sense it was beauty that saved Mr. Brannaman, that of his conscience and that of horses, which, having been tied to humans long ago, became companions, workers and for some, as this lovely movie shows, saviors.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jul 8, 2011
    88
    Seeing Brannaman work in the warm, sun-dappled documentary Buck makes it clear why he was such a perfect fit for Redford's film: Few people can handle horses the way Brannaman does.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 6, 2011
    100
    Buck is a movie to be revisited again and again, like passages from a satisfying self-help book. Riding experience isn't necessary to realize how extraordinary this man and his calling are.
  4. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Jun 30, 2011
    63
    Brannaman is a fascinating character, but Buck is so tightly focused that only avid horse lovers will find it appealing.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 24, 2011
    88
    Beautifully but simply wrought by director Cindy Meehl, this deft documentary is a poignant reappraisal of what it means to be human.
  6. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 23, 2011
    75
    The documentary shows Buck over the course of a year, as he travels and teaches. Along the way, Robert Redford is interviewed about Buck's contribution to "The Horse Whisperer" (1998). Redford likes him, so he can't be a phony.
  7. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jun 23, 2011
    83
    The character who emerges in the breezy, somewhat meandering Buck is plain-spoken, heartfelt, compassionate, witty, and wise. His horse-training technique is based on understanding the psychology of animals and on attuning his human and equine clients with one another.
  8. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Jun 23, 2011
    88
    You don't have to be a horse nut to fall for Buck, one of those rare documentaries whose subject is so inherently fascinating that a fictional character could hardly compete.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jun 23, 2011
    63
    The man's mythology precedes him, and it's the movie's failing that we don't understand how or whether he uses that mythology because he knows it's good business.
  10. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jun 23, 2011
    90
    A haunting, beautifully told tale about a genuine American original.
  11. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jun 23, 2011
    70
    Possibly the touchy-feeliest cowboy movie ever made.
  12. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Jun 23, 2011
    50
    Meehl's documentary features plenty of interviews with cowboys and ranch hands who've had their lives – and their horses' lives – changed by Brannaman, but it lacks the literary or cinematic magic of either version of "The Horse Whisperer."
  13. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jun 22, 2011
    75
    What I was left with was the goodness of Buck Brannaman as a man. He was dealt a hand that might have destroyed him. He overcame his start and is now a wise and influential role model. He does unto horses as he wishes his father had done onto him.
  14. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jun 22, 2011
    91
    The result is a portrait that expertly mirrors its subject: Buck is shaped with the same economy, restraint, and unfussiness as the man, to unexpectedly inspiring effect.
  15. 90
    Meehl, in her directing debut, is attuned to the rhythms of Buck, who's attuned to the horses.
  16. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Jun 18, 2011
    80
    Warmly engaging Buck is a portrait of Buck Brannaman, a trainer whose remarkable way with equines provided a model for "The Horse Whisperer" in both novel and movie forms.
  17. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Jun 18, 2011
    80
    Buck has the air of a beautiful little mystery; even knowing the uplifting outcome, you wonder at the strength that brought him to this place.
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jun 18, 2011
    91
    The riders who appear in Buck seem almost uniformly exalted by their contact with Brannaman and his methods.
  19. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jun 17, 2011
    50
    Buck is best left to TV, where it will land soon. It's "The Horse Whisperer" that should be seen on the big screen.
  20. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jun 16, 2011
    80
    The film is deeply moving yet never maudlin in telling this hard-knocks-but-hope-infused story.
  21. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jun 16, 2011
    80
    Soft-spoken and stoical, Brannaman is a firm but sensitive presence in front of the camera and facing down a spooked horse.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jun 16, 2011
    100
    It keeps you fascinated, even enthralled; elicits astonishment, even wonderment, and makes you grateful for the chance to meet someone remarkable.
  23. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jun 16, 2011
    60
    Even if we can't live his cowboy life, Buck Brannaman's world is well worth visiting.
  24. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Jun 16, 2011
    75
    Perhaps Brannaman's art is too subtle and instinctive to be captured on camera, but it's a shame Meehl doesn't do a better job of capturing exactly what makes him, by all accounts, a miraculously successful trainer.
  25. Reviewed by: Mark Holcomb
    Jun 14, 2011
    70
    Meehl finds the real story in Brannaman's fractured past as a child celebrity trick-roper who, along with his older brother, Smokie, was systematically abused by his alcoholic father.
  26. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jun 14, 2011
    80
    This film's effectively wrought communion between once-spooked man and animal is more than enough for any entertainment. It rides easily into your heart.
  27. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jun 14, 2011
    83
    Buck Brannaman, the subject of Cindy Meehl's engaging documentary profile Buck, has a warm presence and knows how to tame horses better than anyone else.
  28. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jun 13, 2011
    38
    Life lessons abound in Buck, most of them tied to endlessly reiterated comparisons between man and horse.
  29. 70
    A quietly captivating portrait of an unlikely character, Buck is as modest as its subject and wins viewers over just as easily.
  30. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jun 12, 2011
    63
    Taken on its own merits, this profile of "Buck" Brannaman is a pleasant and touching but somewhat superficial insight to the man and his methods.
  31. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Jun 12, 2011
    70
    What makes this movie truly special is that the source of Buck's uncanny gift is actually an acute childhood sorrow.
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Jun 26, 2013
    9
    A truly inspiring emotional movie about a fascinating individual. Pulls at the heartstrings without pandering and is a nice little piece ofA truly inspiring emotional movie about a fascinating individual. Pulls at the heartstrings without pandering and is a nice little piece of Americana as well. Full Review »
  2. Aug 16, 2011
    7
    Buck is someone we all should learn from, and a remarkable man. This movie doesn't quite do him justice. Unfortunately, this movie couldBuck is someone we all should learn from, and a remarkable man. This movie doesn't quite do him justice. Unfortunately, this movie could have been culled down into an hour tv documentary and probably have been just as good. The producers may have borrowed from Buck a little too much and failed to plum the depths of the man, instead merely letting us hear a whisper of him. Full Review »
  3. Jul 24, 2011
    9
    I thought the movie was very real. Because it was real, it said a lot about the frailties of humans, even the frailties of Buck.
    Beautiful
    I thought the movie was very real. Because it was real, it said a lot about the frailties of humans, even the frailties of Buck.
    Beautiful horses, great characters, good cinematography.
    Full Review »