FILM REVIEW: Ride Like a Girl

Cathy Freeman winning gold. Steven Bradbury speeding past the pack. John Aloisi securing our place in the World Cup.

Aussies love their iconic sporting moments, and there are few as iconic as Michelle Payne's historic Melbourne Cup-winning ride.

So it's no surprise that the story of the first woman to ever hoist the trophy has been turned into a film.

Ride Like a Girl tells Payne's quite tragic life story.

Her mother was killed in a car accident when the future champion was just six months old, leaving her father Paddy to raise 10 children alone.

The loss of her mother is something that colours Payne's entire life, as does the premature loss of one of her sisters, Brigid, in a fall.

The whole Payne family is involved in horse-racing, and eight of the 10 children became jockeys.

Michelle, the youngest, spent her life learning from everyone around her, taking their advice, building off their mistakes.

Director Rachel Griffiths (better known as one of Australia's most successful actresses) spends a great deal of time building the family unit, showing how close they all are and how much horse racing has shaped their lives.

Real-life icon: Teresa Palmer stars as inspiring Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne alongside Sam Neill as her father Paddy in Ride Like a Girl, rated PG, in cinemas now.

Real-life icon: Teresa Palmer stars as inspiring Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne alongside Sam Neill as her father Paddy in Ride Like a Girl, rated PG, in cinemas now.

Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) hops in the saddle as Michelle Payne, and proves once again that she's one of the best Australian actresses going around.

She embodies all of Payne's excitement, frustration, fear, hard work and tenacity, and is in almost every scene of the film.

Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) plays Paddy, giving a reserved, quiet performance.

But the true star of the film, unquestionably, is Michelle's real-life brother Stevie Payne, who plays himself.

Stevie, who has Down Syndrome, is the closest in age to Michelle, her best friend and her perennial partner in crime.

He is also an absolute scene-stealer and has some of the best lines in the film.

That being said, the dialogue is not one of Ride Like a Girl's highlights, often sounding hokey and try-hard.

But that's just a small drawback it what is ultimately an inspiring, enjoyable and very Australian film.

Ride Like a Girl is a must-see for all Aussie horse racing fans.

Rating: 7/10