Categories Dream Horse Horse Racing Print Media Sundance Film Festival

Living the Dream: Why Hollywood Has Taken On Ultimate Rags to Riches Tale – Jan 26, 2020

Damian is a Dream on Dream Horse

by Olivia Buxton | Sunday Express | January 26, 2020

It’s a long way from an old slag heap in a Welsh mining village to the red carpets of Hollywood. But, then again, how often has a horse bought on a whim for £300 beaten the multi-millionaires of the sport of kings?  And all that after undergoing a revolutionary stem cell treatment to overcome a life-threatening injury which was feared would stop him ever racing again.

Now the rags-to-riches story of Dream Alliance and how he brought hope to one of Britain’s most deprived spots is a film with Homeland star Damian Lewis, Gavin & Stacey‘s Joanna Page and hit Broadway actress Toni Collette. It was even screened at the swish Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Friday.

It all began in Cefn Fforest working men’s club when Jan Vokes overheard tax advisor Howard Davies (played by Lewis) saying how he once ran a racehorse syndicate. It had cost him £5,000 and he’d promised wife Angela (played by Page) that he would never do anything like it again. But Jan was interested.

She cleaned at Asda and at a school and worked as a barmaid – but didn’t see why she couldn’t breed a racehorse. She had an allotment on a slag heap, as a child had watched her father breed budgies and had bred pigeons and whippets herself.

Howard managed to convince his wife that they wouldn’t lose money and found an aging stallion for stud.

Joanna Page says it was a joy to star alongside Damian Lewis in Dream Horse,

“Damian Lewis plays my husband, Howard, and we have a syndicate in this Welsh village, where we live and we breed a racing horse. Damian’s character is one of the main ones in the syndicate but Angela is not very supportive.”

“But Damian was so lovely and funny to work with. He’s brilliant.”

Continue reading Living the Dream: Why Hollywood Has Taken On Ultimate Rags to Riches Tale – Jan 26, 2020

Categories Dream Horse Premiere Print Media Review Sundance Film Festival

Dream Horse Film Review: Variety – Jan 26, 2020

Equal Emphasis is Given to the Excellent Lewis

by Dennis Harvey | Variety | January 26, 2020

Louise Osmond’s 2015 Sundance audience winner “Dark Horse” was one of those documentaries that played like a crowdpleasing fiction, its real-life tale of underdog triumph had such a conventionally satisfying narrative arc. And indeed, the new “Dream Horse” proves that same material is indeed ready-made for dramatization.

Euros Lyn’s feature springs few true surprises within its familiar genre, one that U.K. filmmakers have specialized in at least since “The Full Monty.” Still, this is a well-cast, artfully handled effort that exercises sufficient restraint to really earn its requisite laughter and tears. Likely to have broad appeal, with strong word-of-mouth from its own Park City premiere, it looks to be one of the strongest commercial prospects at Sundance this year.

Toni Collette is in fine form as Jan Vokes, a middle-aged South Wales native whose life in declining former mining town Cefn Fforest has hit a seemingly permanent slump. Her children have left the nest, arthritic husband Brian (Owen Teale) mostly just parks himself in front of the telly, and her two jobs (bartending at the local social club/pub and cashiering at a big-box store) are joyless dead ends. She and Brian have always been keen on animals, each raising award-winning livestock from an early age. But currently they’re down to some geese, a lazy dog and the odd goat.

One day a newish patron (Damian Lewis) at the pub, bragging about his purported glories as part of a racehorse investing syndicate, piques Jan’s interest. After doing some research, she informs the incredulous Brian that they’re buying a brood mare, then actually goes out and does it. The next thing is to draft local investors to fund the considerable costs of orchestrating insemination by a racing stallion, raising the offspring, training, et al., with only the remotest chance of arriving at a winning competitor.

Continue reading Dream Horse Film Review: Variety – Jan 26, 2020

Categories Dream Horse Premiere Print Media Review Sundance Film Festival

Dream Horse Review: Toni Collette and Damian Lewis Lead This Crowd-Pleasing Sports Drama – Jan 26, 2020

It Will Make You Chuckle, Cheer, and Maybe Even Tear Up: 7 Out of 10

by Ben Pearson | Slash Film | January 26, 2020

Jane (Toni Collette) is tired. Tired of working multiple jobs in small-town Wales, tired of her boring husband Brian (Owen Teale) who bums around watching TV all day, tired of taking care of her aging parents, tired of the drudgery her life has become. So when Howard (Damian Lewis), a former hotshot racehorse owner, becomes a regular at the bar where she works, Jane is inspired to try her own hand at raising a racehorse – but she needs some help to pull it off. Based on a 2015 documentary called Dark Horse, director Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse is an inspirational, winning sports drama about a small town with big hopes.

The trouble with Jane’s plan is that racehorses are expensive. So she reaches out to the townsfolk to see if they want to form a syndicate, an ownership collective in which they all pay £10 a week for shared rights to the future winnings of their still non-existent racehorse. A coterie of characters shows up to participate, including retirees, local small business owners, and even the town drunk.

Continue reading Dream Horse Review: Toni Collette and Damian Lewis Lead This Crowd-Pleasing Sports Drama – Jan 26, 2020

Categories Dream Horse Gallery Premiere Review Sundance Film Festival

Dream Horse Sundance Review – Jan 25, 2020

“The Movie’s Got Spirit and Finishes Strong”

by Tim Grierson | Screen Daily | January 25, 2020

Toni Collette is a sure thing in Dream Horse, a thoroughly predictable but ultimately winning underdog sports movie. Based on the true story of a group of down-on-their-luck Welsh villagers who pool their assets to sponsor a racehorse, the movie goes a long way on the strength of the Oscar-nominated actress’s emotional performance as an unfulfilled wife and mother who decides to bet on herself. Director Euros Lyn overdoes the feel-good trappings, but it’s hard to deny the genuine sentiment that the movie stirs up.

This Sundance premiere will appeal to general audiences who just want a little uplift from their movies when it opens in the UK on April 17 and in the US in May. Collette fans will be pleased as well, and horse lovers should be charmed by the title character’s soulful eyes and knack for coming up big during the story’s most critical moments.

Set in the economically depressed Welsh community of Cefn Fforest, Dream Horse stars Collette as Jan Vokes, who works at a co-op and a bar to make ends meet. (Her husband Brian, played by Owen Teale, is out of work because of crippling arthritis.) With their kids grown, Jan (who’s always adored animals) is having trouble coping as an empty-nester — which partly explains her interest in supporting a racehorse, which might be a financial windfall and, more importantly, a way to add meaning to what she feels is a pretty humdrum life.

This real-life tale was previously the subject of the 2015 Sundance documentary Dark Horse, and there’s no mystery to why the material would lend itself to a likeable feature film. Recalling indie hits such as The Full Monty, Dream Horse is principally a salute to small-town characters who take a chance, in the process finding personal satisfaction. The movie’s target audience will want to believe that these downtrodden people can beat the odds, and Dream Horse does nothing to upset those expectations.

Continue reading Dream Horse Sundance Review – Jan 25, 2020