A Fine Step

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
A Fine Step Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful tale of horses and grief has some peril.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 111 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A Fine Step offers positive messages about family loyalty, the importance of giving others the space to grieve in their own way, and second chances, particularly focused on perseverance and trying again even in the face of difficulty or fear.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adults are engaged and present. Though some are better parents than others in terms of effort and unconditional love, nearly all the adults act with integrity, concern, compassion, and a broader understanding of what's best for the community. There is particular sensitivity to the care and treatment of animals and a disdain for the idea of horses as easily transferred property.


Some mild violence when a man is struck by a rolling truck. He's shown writhing in pain with blood trickling down his forehead. There are some subsequent hospital scenes where he's shown scraped and bandaged and continues the film walking with a cane and visible limp. A man slaps another man. A man threatens to put a horse down. Some mild peril when a teenage girl is alone in the countryside after her horse runs off.


A man and woman kiss. A man tells a teenage girl he thinks she's great but she's only 13.


Minor profanity, such as "hell" and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Fine Step is a family drama about horses, loyalty, and money. There are some perilous moments when a man is injured and a teenage girl is left alone in the countryside and very minor profanity ("hell" and "damn"). There are mentions of a mother who died after an illness. Overall there are some mature issues concerning loss, grieving, and second chances, with positive messages about discipline, diligence, and family loyalty, and especially a passion for horses, their care, and their treatment. Better for older tweens and teens who can handle the complex family issues, but a thoughtful meditation on horses, community, and grieving.

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What's the story?

Championship rider Cal Masterson (Luke Perry) has suffered an injury that likely will prevent him from ever riding horses again. But with the help of a young girl and neighbor Claire (Anna Claire Sneed) and the daughter of a powerful, often ruthless businessman, he finds an unlikely source of inspiration and strength to help him continue working with horses, even if it's in new ways he never expected.

Is it any good?

A FINE STEP is a well-shot, thoughtful meditation on passion for horses and the complicated ways in which we work through grief. Through these subjects a number of interesting relationships play out -- between fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, businessmen and the communities they exploit -- and the film examines the unexpected ways communities take shape. It has some heavy themes, such as the loss of a parent and the grieving process, and it has a tentative, somber mood that can sometimes feel overwrought. But mature teens with a love of horses, particularly the Paso Fino breed, and their care and treatment may find this right up their alley.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whom animals "belong" to. Do you think people can really own animals? Why, or why not?

  • Fandango means something different to each person in the film. Which relationship to the horse do you think was most respectful, and why?

  • The film has a powerful message about grieving different kinds of loss in different ways. Have you ever had to grieve the loss of a person or experience? What was it like? How did you cope?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

Themes & Topics

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