Please just go and see ‘Ride Like A Girl’ at the movies.
This Australian biopic is the real life story of female jockey Michelle Payne winning The Melbourne Cup in 2015. It is brilliant. Witty. Heart breakingly sad in parts and pure Australian.
It tells the story of a woman smashing barriers in a man’s world of racing. It highlights the battles of an athlete who has to over come a massive rehabilitation after nearly dying in a horse fall. It also tells the story of her brother, a young man with down syndrome, who plays himself. What a refreshing example of highlighting abilities not disabilities.
Michelle is one of 10 kids and her dad Paddy (played by Sam Neil) raised his Catholic clan himself after Michelle’s mum was killed in a car accident when she was just 6 months old. Stevie stole our heart in real life all those years ago and the big screen loves him. The movie documents his close bond with Michelle as her sibling and as her strapper.
Steve will steal your heart with his hilarious lines delivered with brilliant timing. His relationship with his sister is beautiful to witness. The mastermind behind the movie is actor Rachel Griffiths. What a woman! Rachel came into my work last week to chat about the movie she directed. I have not met such a special human being in a long time. “It’s very Man From Snowy River, Phar Lap. We wanted a family film that would play as well for older audiences as it might if you bought your children or grandchildren, ” said the Six Feet Under actor. Rachel has acted with the most famous talent in the world (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Brothers and Sisters) but is relishing her new role of directing.
After living for decades in the States the mum and her husband and 3 children are also happy to be back home. There are many subtle nods to her home country. There is an endearing scene in ‘Ride Like A Girl’ where Michelle and Stevie steal the Christmas pudding and eat it secretly under the table. The scenery is open wide plains with native trees reaching up to our blue skies and larrikins betting track side while having a beer and a bet.
The Payne kids all show that grit and optimism that we are taught from the day we are born in ‘The Lucky Country’. Your children will love this movie, trust me. My 8 –year- old daughter now wants to ride in The Melbourne Cup! The plot has a wedding, a funeral, heaps of examples of Aussie grit and plenty of laughs. Our Aussie movies need support to succeed. I recently chatted to Bryan Brown who is starring in and has financially backed ‘Palm Beach’ with his director wife Rachel Ward.
Bryon said the United State movie production companies are juggernauts and urged us to go and buy a ticket to an Aussie movie to keep the industry alive. And if you are feeling super patriotic and in the mood for a whole lot of cheeky fun check out ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ playing in Brisbane on stage. It will make you gasp in surprise. It is vibrant. It is rude. It is funny and sad. Rachel Griffiths played Muriel’s best friend maverick Rhonda in the original movie way back in 1994.
Rachel continues to lead the way to show us all how to lead richer lives. Michelle Payne won our hearts the day she galloped up that straight and into the history books but Rachel Griffiths is every bit the female trail blazer as well.