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Sitting here watching the fillies and mares races of the Breeders Cup seemed like a good time to write about the movie I watched last night, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.

Dreamer (real name in the film Sonador, Sonya for short, but I suppose Disney thought they couldn't pin a Spanish name on the film :-/ ) was a very predictable film about a girl and her racehorse, but it's also the kind of film that you desperately *wanted* to be that predictable, because everybody in it was just so likable, and the story just had that much heart.  I think a lot of the credit for that goes to Dakota Fanning, who was really pretty wondrous and I suspect inspired great performances out of people like Kurt Russell and Kris Kristopherson, who are perfectly capable of phoning in a performance for a paycheck.  This is the kind of movie that would have been sunk by lacklustre performances, but watching it I really got the sense that everybody loved the story and what they were doing, something that was reinforced by watching the extras (which are all well worth watching).

Although the movie is about a girl, and certainly younger people could enjoy it (though I cannot imagine being in a theatre full of little girls at the 12:30 mark in the film, when I myself burst into sobs), it was clearly created by somebody who knows and cares about horse racing.  This wasn't just a story about a little girl--it really was a story about racing.  The screenwriter/director grew up near Saratoga Springs and was a horse-crazy boy growing up, and that sense of wonder carries through, along with a lack of illusions about some of the seamier sides of the industry.  There were some references in it that children would not get.  I'm thinking particularly of Mr. Thunderpants, the stud pony who was supposed to get Sonador in the mood before the real stud shows up (being a pony, he'd be too short to actually impregnate her).  I thought it was also interesting that the writer went to Kentucky to do his research with a story already in mind, only to be told by every horseperson he talked to "oh, that's the Mariah's Storm story."  Hence the "inspired by a true story" subtitle--strictly speaking, it was developed in ignorance of the true story, but the similarities were too striking to be ignored.  Mariah's Storm suffered what should have been a catastrophic break, recovered and went on to win more graded stakes, including a victory over Serena's Song.  She also became a strong broodmare, producing among others Giant's Causeway (who in turn I am regularly seeing in commercials this evening for Coolmore Farms stud program, rather a nice reminder of how sometimes real life can indeed be like a fairytale).

A couple of things that I think bear particular mention were that the Latino characters were, despite being in supporting roles, multifaceted and clearly with their own hopes and dreams (and lack of subtitles when speaking bits of Spanish, which I think is good), and that in a way, an Arab man saves the day.  If you follow racing to the tiniest degree, you know that there is extensive Latino involvement in the sport, though in the US and Canada not at the owner or head trainer level (give it time, it'll happen).  But you don't see Latino characters in a lot of race movies, at least not in any prominent roles.  Here, the assistant trainer and especially the jockey are definitely integral parts of the team and the story and treated with a lot of respect.  And the Arab man, a rich sheikh--in a way, I suppose he was a metaphor for how Gulf Arabs really had a revitalizing effect on horse breeding and racing internationally and in Kentucky, but he was also a nice man who had it in his power to do something good for a little girl, and did it (granted for somewhat selfish reasons, but nonetheless).

So all in all, even though this was a very simplistic, heart tugging film with some serious unbelievability issues, in some ways it was a really nice representation of what is best about horse racing--and it was actually a good movie.  I recommend it to anyone who likes racing, and to anyone who just wants something that will make them happy for a couple of hours.

Wow, Zenyatta's at 3-5 for tomorrow.  My heart starts beating faster every time I pause to think about it.

Date: 2010-11-06 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(real name in the film Sonador, Sonya for short, but I suppose Disney thought they couldn't pin a Spanish name on the film :-/ )

You mean, like Hidalgo? ;)

I really suspect it had more to do with marketing it as a movie about the girl rather than the horse.


alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)

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