A supremely ambitious effort by Billy Bob Thornton in attempting to film an astonishing book that endures mainly due to Cormac McCarthy's uniquely beautiful prose, All the Pretty Horses was shot down on release due mainly to appallingly bad word of mouth.
Initially slated to star DiCaprio, the film ended up with Matt Damon as John Grady Cole. Damon is excellent and when you consider the flexibility he has demonstrated in his acting (Talented Mr Ripley, Good Will Hunting, Bourne Identity, Stuck on You), the man deserves more praise than he receives. His performance in this film is excellent, and should prove recognisable to people who have read the book first.
Thornton's direction is, in my opinion, truly epic, full of meandering shots of the harsh landscape and giving a real sense of how life as a cowboy must have been at that particular, post WWII time of heightened uncertainty.
The two huge bonuses the film version of All the Pretty Horses present are however Lucas Black (as the brash Blevins) and the soundtrack. In my view, there has not been a better 'original soundtrack' in my lifetime (age 27). As far as westerns go, it is pitch perfect. The negative reaction to the film undoubtedly prevented this haunting, evocative soundtrack winning an Oscar. While the music doesn't need that validation, it would certainly have helped it sell more!
A quick note on Lucas Black (ably assisted by ET's Henry Thomas), whose performance certainly rated amongst the best of that particular year, but who was again brushed aside when it came to awards. Why we haven't seen more of him on the big (or small screen - American Gothic launched Black) is both confusing and irritating.
Highly recommended - and you should make every effort to seek out the soundtrack too.