Dream Horse is a rousing, feel-good film based on a true story that will make you believe that indeed, sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction. It is the story of a group of locals, led by Jan Vokes (Toni Collette) and Howard Davies (Damian Lewis) from a small Welsh mining town, who come together to form a syndicate to breed a racing horse.
It is a larger-than-life story, which will leave you inspired to add a bit of ‘hwyl’ into your own lives, to find a purpose that breaks the drudgery of every day monotony and teach you to start living!
Here are five reasons why you need to go watch Dream Horse at a cinema near you.
1) The emotions: Dreams Horse is an emotional film. There are moments of hope, moments of heartbreak and moments of humour in equal measure. One of the reasons that make this the perfect the movie to watch post lockdown is that unlike a lot of the underdog stories that have come out recently, this one does not stick to a loop of negative emotion. Instead, the screenplay writer, Neil McKay and director, Euros Lyn, make it a blend of laughter, tears and hope.
I am an unabashedly emotional viewer but this time I was not the only one laughing, or struggling to hold back tears or cheering for the stunning Dreams!
2) Toni Collete: Yes, that’s an entire reason on its own. In a cast full of brilliant character actors, Toni manages to stand out. Toni manages to portray all of Jan’s various emotions to perfection. Whether it is tiny smile that she pulls out for each customer at the local co-op till where she works or the tender moments where she confides in Dream about why he, and their journey is so important to her – Toni is absolutely effortless in making you feel each emotion that Jan is going through.
3) The syndicate: Ahh, you know when you end up in a room full of strangers, and they all seem so different to yourself that you are not quite sure what you could even talk to them about? I felt like that a tiny bit at the beginning. But boy was I wrong and how. By the end of the film, I could not help but be invested in all their individual stories as if I had known them forever.
The name the syndicate chooses – Dream Alliance – ends up reflecting what the syndicate is. A group of working class residents, becoming a part of a dream that is larger than their lives in the small town. It is an unlikely alliance. But one that manages to win you over instantly with its charm.
4) The treatment: There are so many ways to spoil a great story by not telling it properly. But with Dream Horse, I saw the many, many ways in which a great story gets even better, when the story is told well.
I have to be honest – initially was a little bit hesitant – because I know next to nothing about horse racing. And sometimes sports dramas end up being so much about the sport that you can feel a little lost. Fortunately that is not the case here. I think you would enjoy the sports side of equally if you are novice with very little knowledge like me, or a fan of the races.
The way the races have been filmed – it takes you right to the centre of the action. When the race starts, a palpable sense of excitement starts building up. So often, underdog movies tend to become predictable, but not with this one. Euros leaves you on the edge of your seat. Then there is the interspersion of the race with the emotions of the syndicate itself, so expertly woven together that we find ourselves feeling the emotions second by second as the races progress. The film’s tagline so aptly describes this feeling as: ‘hearts will race’. And to find out that all the race sequences were shot over just six days – remarkable!
5) The Welshness of it all: Dream Horse, as a movie is all heart. And so much of it comes from the people and the sense of local pride that they carry with them. The way the small town in Wales actually becomes a character in the movie – so much more than just a place. Starting from how we are introduced to Toni’s character through her day around the town, to the end, where the same previously dreary, quiet streets are filled with exuberant crowds welcoming the local heroes home, it is difficult to think that these are even the same streets! Euros Lyn, who is Welsh himself, manages to strike the right balance between showcasing the local while still making the movie, its emotions and its humour relatable for audiences from anywhere in the world.
If you feel comfortable to head back to the big screen, then make time to catch Dream Horse. I hope you leave the theatre with a big hearty smile and a dry tear, just like I did!
All photos belong to Kerry Brown / Bleecker Street.