The pitter patter of a horse gallop starts Dream Horse with energy, then transforms into guttural snoring noises. It sets the stage early on for the flavor of comedy to expect from this charming and inspirational UK film, from director Euros Lyn. Bubbly Welsh bartender Jan (Toni Collette) takes a big swing when she decides to breed a racehorse. Even after being told “let’s get you another pigeon” instead, Jan’s determination to get Dream Alliance into the big time rallies her neighbors and the town at large for support. Dream Alliance quickly establishes a presence as the little horse that could as the horse starts winning big against all odds.
If you’ve seen a single film with an inspirational storyline, you pretty much know where this one is headed. The inherent predictability doesn’t lessen the narrative’s impact, as we get to know the big ensemble cast. Toni Collette, as usual, gets the assignment. She plays Jan as completely obsessed with Dream Alliance. Her personality is defined by the horse’s trajectory—her grocery store job means nothing compared to Dream Alliance’s success. It’s practically love at first sight when Jan lays eyes on the baby horse: “he’s gorgeous!” The other characters in the film are little more than stereotypes; Damian Lewis stands out as “the best horse trainer in the country.”
Dream Horse is ultimately a feel-good movie that will wrap you in its warm embrace if you’re in the mood for its delightful sensibilities. The horse race scenes capture the excitement and unpredictability of horse gambling. Closing out with Tom Jones’ “Delilah” gives us a ridiculously fun musical sequence to end on a high. Horse lovers everywhere are those who will bond the strongest with this breezy true story.
Dream Horse gallops to theaters on May 21, 2021 followed by video on demand June 11, 2021 by Bleecker Street.