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Michelle Payne film warms movie buffs

Steve Bennett in News 17 Sep 2019
  •  A heart-warming behind the scenes look at horse racing

The soon to be released movie Ride Like A Girl will capture the hearts of Australian movie goers, if the sneak preview is anything to go by.

I attended a special pre-release screening of the movie on Tuesday night and left the cinema feeling a lot more than just satisfied.

Prior to the movie, first-time film director Rachel Griffiths addressed the near capacity cinema as an introduction to the movie about the rise to fame of Michelle Payne in her quest to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

Griffiths gave the audience a brief background on the Payne family and their struggles as a family of 10 children who were left to be raised by their father (Paddy) after their mother died in a car accident when Michelle was just six months old.


Director - Rachel Griffiths

The 50-year-old Director stressed to the audience how much she did not want the film to be labelled as a ‘girly flick’, rather, a film that would hit home strongly enough to even make men cry. 

Well, I would have to admit there were a few scenes where at the very least, a lump in the throat was on the menu which is due credit to the production crew who wanted to set the right atmosphere for those particular scenes.

The movie (with a running time of 1hr 38mins) covers Michelle’s life from childhood to the day she captured the hearts of many as she fulfilled her dream as a jockey.

The (adult) role of Michelle was played by Teresa Palmer who made her mark in movies such as Bedtime Stories (2008), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) and more recently Warm Bodies (2013) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016).



Palmer’s portrayal of Michelle was fulfilling and a performance well worth the applause it received at the end of the movie.

Sam Neil portrays her father (Paddy) as only Sam Neil could with a brilliant performance in every way. 

Paddy was a hard man, when it came to mentoring his children as riders, but a very fair and loving man in every other aspect.

Michelle’s brother, Stevie, stole the show as he portrayed himself in the movie. 

Even Sam Neil himself was full of praise for Stevie’s performance, when you consider he has had no prior acting experience.

Stevie returned serve with his high opinion of Neil in the role of his father.

“I can’t believe it, he’s so good” he said  
“He’s so like Dad.  
"You can see it in his manner.”

At least six cameras were destroyed during filming of the racing scenes.

Many angles were shot during these scenes and they brought the audience as close as you would want to be where the adrenalin lifted with every stride.

Victorian jockey Chris Symons took two months off riding to supervise the filming of the racing scenes and despite the loss of the equipment was happy with the outcome.

One cloud over the movie was cast when trainer Darren Weir was banned for four years by Racing Victoria for using illegal equipment on his horses.

Producer Richard Keddie made the decision to leave the film as it was due to the involvement Weir had with the backbone of the film.

"It was my call and I didn't change anything in the film," Keddie said.
"Darren had been a great supporter of Michelle, a fantastic supporter of [her brother] Stevie [who has Down Syndrome].
“He'd given Stevie a job, he kept Michelle on the horse when others wanted to take her off.

Michelle herself was full of praise for the cast and crew of the movie.

"It's a story of family and tough times that everybody has, and you have to get them, and we go through them together” she said. 
"I'm really proud of the way Rachel and Richard have portrayed my family."


The film ended to a rousing round of applause which was credit to all those involved in the making of the film.

Director Griffiths then opened up the floor to the audience for a 30-minute question and answer session.

Ride Like A Girl hits the cinema screens on Thursday, September 26. 



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Michelle Payne film warms movie buffs

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