Melbourne Cup movies. There aren’t a lot of them. In fact, there’s as many movies made about the race that stops the nation as there are female jockeys. So when actor-turned-first-time director Rachel Griffiths set out “to make a PG feminist sports film that would make men cry”, the odds of box office glory were, well, not exactly paying $1.20. But much like the heroine at the centre of Ride Like A Girl, the film has sprinted ahead of other movies to become the firm favourite.
Based on the real-story of a history-making jockey, Berlin Syndrome actor Teresa Palmer plays Michelle Payne who became the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015. After only being in cinemas for five weeks, the film has reached the $10 million mark at the Australian box office, making it the highest grossing film of 2019 in our country.
If you haven’t seen Ride Like A Girl yet, I strongly suggest you do. Beyond exploring the dangers of the profession and the sexist attitudes Payne had to overcome in order to follow her childhood dream, the movie also touches on Payne’s childhood. She grew up with nine siblings under the watchful eye of her widower father (played by Sam Neill).
Palmer plays Payne with such grit, you find yourself barracking for her – and with her – during her hard-fought attempts to etch her name in the history books. If you’ve ever felt like the underdog, be it due to your gender or a lack of believing you can achieve something, this film will restore a little bit of hope. There’s even little bits of footage of Payne riding woven in.
“It’s wonderful that Australian audiences have embraced Michelle Payne’s story and are going back – again and again – to celebrate her courage,” said Griffiths in a statement. “Young and old, male and female, country and city audiences are walking ‘in her shoes.’ I know there are many who want to see the film who haven’t yet and we urge you to book your ticket for the weeks ahead. This is the rare Australian story that needs to be shared with others as they laugh, cry and cheer.”
Bravo, Palmer and Griffiths.
Ride Like A Girl is in Australian cinemas now.