Dream Horse (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
MUCH OF Dream Horse's personality stems from the wonderful performances delivered by Toni Collette and Damien Lewis, and while the rest of the ride may not be up to scratch, its best qualities are enough to race the film to a well-earned, heart-warming victory.
Based on the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred in a small Irish village with a group of locals pitching in their meagre earnings to help her realise her dreams, Dream Horse follows horse owner Jan Vokes (Toni Collette) as she yearns to escape her monotonous routine, and with the help of race expert Howard Davies (Damien Lewis), reach international glory alongside her thoroughbred.
The structure isn't exactly a cinematic breakthrough, but Dream Horse's simplistic storytelling lends the film to a plethora of joyous moments featuring Collette, Lewis and the small South Welsh community. From Dream's birth lifting Jan's hope of a divergent life to her eventual victory sending the town into a celebratory frenzy, each moment feels genuine and exudes angelic authenticity from beginning to end.
Despite the true story of Dream Alliance's success being a depressing tale of heartbreak and persistence, Dream Horse leans heavily in the other direction with majority of the film being a comedic romp. This isn't exactly a bad thing though as many of the jokes do land as the syndicate members who aren't Collette, Lewis or Owen Teale are used for comedic relief, particularly Lewis' work colleagues and beloved village drunk Kerby, who of whom do wonderful in their humorous roles.
Dream Horse may shine when it is whimsical, but considering it is a biographical feature, the movie is sadly let down during its most dramatic and emotional moments. The first act is completely void of conflict, but when a horrific accident occurs in the second act, the film shifts gears and attempts to exert emotional moments. However, since the film featured little emotion leading up to this point, the sudden shift of tone came from nowhere, resulting in a serious case of bad pacing which ruined any emotional resolution the movie could have had. This is particularly true in the case of Damien Lewis' character as his arc is brought to light and wrapped up in the span of 15 minutes, making the entire point of his familial problems mute which is a tremendous shame as there was plenty of story-telling potential for a man with a gambling addiction to risk his family relationship in the hopes of going all-in on Dream's success.
Euros Lyn's latest feature may not stick the landing in terms of emotional substance, but the biographical re-telling of Dream Alliance's success does paint an inspirational picture of hope and determination, all of which is built off the back of Toni Collette and Damien Lewis' charming performances; an easy recommendation for those wanting a charming comedy with heart.