Instant déjà vu might have hit you over seeing the ads and promos for Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse out in May. That’s because the first trailer for this British biopic dropped a year and a half ago. And like most things in 2020, the release of the film was held back for a whole year.
Though you probably would have gotten a sense of familiarity even if it hadn’t been postponed. Lyn’s new feature is in many ways one of the better choices to lead viewers back into theaters, as it has all the hallmarks of a traditional feel-good movie.
In a small Welsh town in the early 2000s, Jan Vokes (Toni Collette) is a lower-class wife working two jobs as a bartender and a convenience-store employee. She’s finding her life at a standstill with her kids grown up and her unemployed husband, Brian (Owen Teale) lounging around the house all day.
When she overhears one of her bar patrons, Howard (Damian Lewis) boasting about a horse he bet on winning, she gets an idea to breed, train and race her own horse. Eventually named Dream Alliance, the racehorse becomes a syndicate with Jan, Brian, Howard and a handful of other locals willing to chip in for the horse to compete in the Grand National. Joanna Page co-stars as Howard’s wife, and Karl Johnson and Sian Phillips appear as two of the local investors.
Dream Horse is based on events of a real woman named Jan Vokes and a real, prize-winning racehorse named Dream Alliance, who were also the previous subjects of Louise Osmond’s 2015 documentary Dark Horse.
Lyn’s new film is pretty much exactly what you want and expect from a light-hearted horse flick. There’s the rising underdog plot; the unlikely, yet likeable group of friends who come together; the family angle; and the inspirational story. And as usual, it’s a good reminder Toni Collette can play practically any character she wants.
One thing I liked a lot, was that Brian seemed like he was going to be a lazy, unsupportive husband at the beginning of the movie, but rather quickly we see him supporting and aiding Jan in her vision and goals for Dream Alliance.
If you’re still looking for an excuse to have a fun night at the movie theater for the first time in over a year, Dream Horse might do the trick.