Starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale, Joanna Page, Karl Johnson, Steffan Rhodri, Anthony O’Donnell, Nicholas Farrell, and Siân Phillips
Directed by Euros Lyn
Predictable, though not in a blah way. That’s Dream Horse a tiny pretty sweet and tender film about a group of over-the-hill seniors in a sleepy Welsh town who decided to bring in some excitement in their frozen lives by investing in a race horse.
It’s a simple sports drama with a precise and unmissable message of hope and compassion, elevated to something more than an evangelical exercise in pulpit propaganda ,by some excellent actors who believe in the prevalence of hope and goodness even in the dreariest of times.Also, the sedate energy(if that makes any sense) whereby the tranquility of the milieu is never pierced but stirred, adds to the feeling of watching a film with not a single insincere bone in its body.
It all begins with bartender Jan Vokes(Toni Collette who looks like anything but a bartender) investing her hard-earned savings in …no not a vineyard , but a mare. She then decides to ask retired townsfolks to invest in the scheme to take the horse to the races.
Besides Collette who is razor-sharp with her grit, wit and passion, there is the wonderful Damian Lewis as a middlaged man in a placid marriage wasting his time working in front of a computer.His awakening into a state of excitement is accompanied by his unsympathetic but not unkind wife (Joanna Page) ’s realization of how little she knows about her husband’s disappointments.
These are characters in the winter of their lives looking for some spring in their gait. Director Euros Lyn lets the vast cast introduce itself to the audience. There is none of that common directorial anxiety as to how the audience will keep up with the head count. The broth of collective bonhomie bubbles happily, allowing us to sink ourselves into the inspirational yarn effortlessly.
Some of the leaps of faith are achieved a little hurriedly, perhaps to keep the proceedings on a tight leash. For example, Jan’s husband(Owen Teale) is an indifferent sloth the one minute, not paying any attention to what his wife is saying. The next minute he is right beside her , selling her equestrian to prospective buyers.
Right. Everyone has the right to dream. Dream Horse, which was earlier made into documentary , digs into a real-life incident and comes up smelling with roses. By the time the last triumphant race happens the question, derby or not derby, has been duly answered. You will smile and sob as the horse named Dream goes through its journey from hope to near-calamity to rise again. As it gallops to victory, so does the film.
Dream Horse may not spur you into standing up and cheering. But it will most certainly make a tingle run up your spine with it message of hope that is at once endearing and supine.