Starring: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale
Director: Euros Lyn
Running Time: 113 mins
Dream Horse is a British film about the true story of a woman from a small Welsh town who joins with a group of fellow residents to buy and breed a racehorse.
Everybody likes a fluffy, crowd-pleasing underdog tale based on a true story, and that’s exactly what Dream Horse is. Undeniably sweet and full of heart, it’s a film that will definitely put a smile on your face, though it’s fair to say that it often leans a little too heavily on genre tropes through its story.
As I said, everybody likes an inspiring and uplifting story like this, to the extent that we’re very familiar with the structure of an underdog story told on film. Dream Horse, for all its loveliness, sticks very, very closely to that structure throughout, often proving too cheesy for its own good, and undermining what could have been an even more heartfelt story.
There’s certainly passion under the surface here – and a delightfully boisterous display of Welsh patriotism too – but the movie too often relies on predictable and often sappy genre tropes like manufactured tension and unrealistic dialogue to prove a genuinely rousing underdog tale.
There are moments, particularly when we see Dream Alliance, the horse at the centre of the story, racing hard out on the track, that Dream Horse does deliver some genuinely impactful and heart-stopping moments, but it’s again undermined by the movie’s desire to turn back to the human characters, who are all unfortunately a little one-dimensional.
Of course, the real-life personalities the story is based on will be much more complex, but Dream Horse seems to strip out much of that complexity, only leaving the very lovely face of a group of people pouring their heart and soul into this racehorse project.
There’s not much conflict or struggle through the movie, apart from a pair of predictable moments of drama, and as such it’s difficult to really connect on a deeper level with these people, even if their lively spirit is often delightfully infectious.
The performances are certainly the part of Dream Horse that really stands out as the best. Toni Collette is wonderfully sweet in the lead role, while supporting actors Damian Lewis, Owen Teale and more all bring something a little different to the varied table that is the film’s ensemble cast.
Again, their characters aren’t necessarily fascinating, but they are without doubt a delight to spend two hours with. And that is ultimately my main takeaway from Dream Horse. It’s a gorgeous and sweet movie, but one that’s just a little too simplistic and generic for its own good, relying on cheesy genre tropes that undermine what could have been a far more touching story. So, that’s why I’m giving Dream Horse a 6.8 overall.