Can horses save delinquent teen Ashley from drinking, smoking and hot-pink hair highlights? Movie critic Amanda Ronan is trying hard to care.
Saving Winston (2011) opens with three teens robbing a coffee shop. The two boys get away (they run off like cowards at the first sound of sirens) but Ashley gets arrested. Six months later, we catch up with the pink-haired recovering delinquent in drug rehab.
She successfully completes her in-patient program but her mom still can’t accept Ashley’s “problems,” so she is shipped off to her horse-loving aunt’s house.
Teen angst, parental frustration, teen angst, really soothing background music, teen angst…
Oh, thank the heavens! There is actually a horse in this movie!
Her aunt owns a boarding/training stable with “10 or so” horses. Apparently, Ashley was quite the competitor a few years ago when she placed at the World Show.
Then Travis, Ashley’s ex-boyfriend and one of the boys who bailed on her at the coffee shop, shows up at the ranch. Here’s a hairdo only an emo chick with hot pink highlights can love…
Ashley kicks him to the curb, in a very anticlimactic way I might add, and the movie carries on… slowly. Later that day, she finds a starving horse that needs help. With a fresh bag of carrots, she goes to investigate further.
Ashley and her aunt end up bringing the horse, named Winston, home. Two things happen in the movie at this point. One, Ashley and her aunt start retraining Winston which is good. Two, Travis comes back in the picture. I assume that one is bad.
As expected, she lies to her probation officer about seeing Travis. Yep, I knew that shaggy haired miscreant was bad news.
Back at the barn, Ashley successfully trains Winston to “walk when she walks and stop when she stops.” Her aunt then gives them both a lesson in long-lining.
One day when Ashley is supposed to be caring for the horses she runs out to smoke and drink with Travis, leaving a boarder’s horse cross-tied in a stall for hours with no access to water. Ashley realizes her mistake too late. Aunt is not pleased.
Teen angst…Ashley runs off with Travis. More teen angst…Travis tries to rob a church. Horrible teen angst…Ashley breaks up with Travis.
Then the movie turns overtly Christian. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing…I’m just not used to it being laid on so thick.
Back to the horses…
Well…not really. Usually at this point in a movie review I say, “You’ll just have to watch and see!” But honestly, this movie had no climax, no peak action, no point at which I could leave you with a teaser. This was possibly the most boring movie I’ve ever watched! I literally started yawning 30 minutes from the end and could. not. stop. The acting was horrific. Travis looked eerily like Alan Strang from Equus, which was both distracting and frightening. With so few movies showing Park Horses, I was really hoping the plot would dive into the discipline but they didn’t even scratch the surface. Don’t be fooled, this is not a horse movie. It just happened to have a horse in it.
On the good side, the cinematography was actually quite beautiful and the piano soundtrack was lovely.
Moral of the story for Parents: Buy your teenage daughters horses or they’ll date thieves with bad hair and become drug addicts.
For that, I give Saving Winston aka “On-Screen Ambien” ½ a Golden Horseshoe.