Before the cinemas closed during the first lockdown in the UK, I remember seeing trailers and posters for Dream Horse show up pretty much everywhere, and it was one of the last holdouts, with advance screenings still able to be booked until the day before the cinemas were forced to close. I did think that when the film was delayed it would end up getting a VOD or streaming release, but this is one that ended up getting a full cinema release. Whilst I think this is an entertaining enough film, there isn’t really anything special about it.
The film focuses on Co-Op worker and barmaid Jan Vokes, who starts up a syndicate with people in her village in the Welsh valleys to invest in a racehorse, Dream Alliance. Despite some difficulties at the start, Dream Alliance is able to advance in the racing world, bringing increased pride to Jan and the syndicate members. Now whilst the focus of the film is on horse racing, the general feel of the film is pretty much that of your run of the mill underdog sports movie. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but it does give the film a pretty generic feel. The fact that the film is based on a true story does give it a bit more weight, but ultimately it made me think that the documentary released in 2015 about Dream Alliance would be a more rewarding experience. Whilst it isn’t the most original film, it does have a great deal of charm. There’s a sense of optimism present in the film that makes it incredibly likable, but there’s only so much that charm can do to make a film work.
The performances add to the charm of the film. Toni Collette as Jan does a good job at showing the pride she feels with Dream Alliance and the emotional connection she forms with the horse. There are also interesting moments she has with Owen Teale, who plays her husband Brian and the reigniting of the emotional connection they have, with Teale also doing a good job at showing how Brian’s passion for life is brought out with the horse. Damian Lewis does decent work as Howard Davies, an account who becomes invaluable to the syndicate, although there are elements of his character that feel pretty rushed, particularly in respect to his accounting job. The other cast members, mainly Sian Phillips and Karl Johnson, are solid enough in the film, there are fun appearances from Katherine Jenkins and Clare Balding and, whilst he is entertaining enough, I did find myself distracted whenever Peter Davison was on screen.
The technical elements of the film are pretty average on the whole. Euros Lyn is more well known as a TV director, directing several episodes of Doctor Who in the Russell T Davies era and episodes of Torchwood, Black Mirror, Sherlock and Daredevil. His style here is pretty televisual. There are some decent moments of flair during the horse racing scenes, but on the whole the directing and cinematography is nothing special, it does the job. The same is true for the music and the editing, it’s all decent enough, but nothing really stands out.
On the whole, Dream Horse is just a bog standard feel good film. There’s nothing special or unique about the film, and I’m sure the documentary would be a better film, but there is a decent amount of charm present, aided by the talented cast, that makes it a decent enough film on the whole.
My Rating: 3/5