In Theaters Friday May 21
Jan (Toni Collette) lives a mundane life in Wales, working two jobs in a bar and grocery store. On a chance meeting with local businessman, Howard Davies (Damian Lewis), Jan gets the spark of an idea. She wants to own a racehorse.
Researching the details, Jan discovers that developing a racehorse is both a serious endeavor and seriously expensive.
Enlisting a group of locals to invest their meager wages, their “alliance” uses moxie and luck to finance “Dream Alliance,” a horse this group develops from birth.
As Dream Alliance begins racing, his success brings both joy and dissention among the group, for some are in it for the profit while others see Dream Alliance as their dream come true.
“Dream Horse” is a feel good film along the lines of “The Full Monty (1997)” or even “Brassed Off (1996).” These films follow a similar path, a depressing environment with little hope finds a group of locals who do something to bring hope back into their lives.
In “Dream Horse” Jan has lost her enthusiasm for life as has her husband Brian (Owen Teale). Both are just enduring the trudge, slogging from one day to the next.
When Jan hears Howard’s story of risking it all and having it pay off, it lights a glimmer of hope – a small spark that grows into purpose.
Based on a true story, this uplifting film has its moments as well as its weaknesses. In a world just starting to exit a pandemic, divided politically, socially and culturally, with growing violence domestically and abroad, a story about hope is just what the doctor ordered.
Heartwarming films, especially those in this ilk rely on its quirky characters and emotional lead character to garner our sympathy. This film has likeable characters throughout, but lacks distinction in its secondary characters. We never really get to know these townsfolk, so we never really care for them. The focus on the horse dilutes the real story, one of these people needing something to give them hope, not whether the horse will win.
Add to this a lack of distinctive humor and true drama resulting in a watered-down plot. As the story unfolds, the hurdles that Jan and her partners must overcome are simply brushed over making them quick stops in a film that moves at a gallop. By the time the turning point in the film is introduced, we know the outcome of the impending climax. This is supposed to be a film where the journey is more important than the destination, but the journey is so pedestrian that audiences are left with a feel okay movie instead of a feel good film.
The cast is skilled and makes the best of their secondary roles, but no one is asked to stretch their abilities. A fun note though, watch the credits for we get to see the real people the film is based upon as the cast dances and sings with them.
“Dream Horse” does not totally fulfill our dreams of a feel good movie, but in a post-pandemic world, I’ll take even a feel okay film right now.