This is a little inside baseball, but f*ck it. Each year, film festivals generally make some kind of mainstream concession, weighing in a crowd-pleaser among arthouse fare or perhaps more challenging films to balance out the programming. At the Sundance Film Festival, there were kind of a lot of eye-opening, mainstream films in the Premieres section, and one of them was the very feel-good looking “Dream Horse” starring Toni Collette. This is supposed to be the kind of sure-fire easy winner that a festival like Sundance can chalk up in the win column because everyone likes it, it gets good press, etc. But what’s kind of shocking is that seemingly, everyone saw the forest for the trees on this one and apparently stayed away. Because this was a big Eccles premiere—Sundance’s big theater in a primetime evening spot—and there are all of three reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (all positive of course). Now, this isn’t a dig at the film really, it’s supposed to be enjoyable, etc. But perhaps its somewhat heartening to know that film critics decided to avoid the mainstream film bound for a big theatrical rerelease and campaign after the fact, and went after more interesting fare, perhaps without distribution. I digress. No offense to “Dream Horse,” though I’m sure some will be taken.
The heartwarming true story, which stars Toni Collette and Damian Lewis (“Billions“), centers on a cleaner and bartender (Collette) who decides to breed a racehorse in her Welsh village. As the horse rises through the ranks, Jan and the townspeople are pitted against the racing elite in a race for the national championship. But it takes a village to raise a champion, apparently.
Directed by Euros Lyn, “Dream Horse” also stars Owen Teale, Joanna Page, Karl Johnson, Steffan Rhodri, Anthony O’Donnell with Nicholas Farrell and Sian Phillips.
The film tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small-town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites. The group’s investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks with grit and determination and goes on to race in the Welsh Grand National showing the heart of a true champion.
“Dream Horse” is in theaters starting May 1. Watch the trailer below.