Cynical critics like me often grumble about predictable, feel-good movies, which means my growls about Dream Horse should reverberate throughout the community. Except instead of growling, I sighed and melted.
On a simple level, Dream Horse offers relief during these hard times by providing one of those uplifting underdog stories. But the underlying success of Dream Horse comes from a cast and director who make their tale feel warm and real.
Toni Collette, the Emmy-winning lead from The United States of Tara, stars as Jan in a story featuring elements of The Full Monty and Calendar Girls. But rather than dress up her humdrum life by stripping, Jan thinks her neighbors should join her in a scheme to purchase, raise and race a thoroughbred horse. Much as audiences enjoyed the bare butts and breasts in those other hit movies, many of us also appreciate the elegant lines and liquid brown eyes of a regal horse.
While director Euros Lyn specializes in science fiction projects, like the Doctor Who television series, he displays a grounded appreciation for the eye-pleasing movements of his title horse, with a fluid camera that captures the animal’s speed and grace. This gives Dream Horse visual cache to carry into the familiar idea that pursuing a goal helps give life meaning.
In turn, Collette and her fellow performers provide the sense of caring and goodness that makes them deserve success. Using accents to match their story’s real-life setting, the actors work together with an ease that culminates in the credits, when they all join in for a karaoke version of a song that, like Dream Horse, has ties to Wales.
Going against the odds, the song and the familiar story cross the finish line in happy style.
Dream Horse opened in theaters, with a video on demand release two weeks later. Those interested can find a 2015 version of the story online in a documentary called Dark Horse: The Story of Dream Alliance.