Categories Dream Horse Print Media Review

Dream Horse Review by Indiewire

A Satisfyingly Sweet True Story

by David Ehrlich | Indiewire | May 19, 2021

The hard-luck residents of a Welsh mining town find new hope in this satisfyingly sweet true story about a racehorse that beat the odds.

A charmingly guileless crowd-pleaser about a lovable group of working-class stiffs and red-faced retirees in a former South Wales mining village who find new reason to get out of bed in the morning when they pool their resources and invest in breeding a thoroughbred, Euros Lyn’s “Dream Horse” is more than a little hackneyed for something based on such an amazing true story. And yet, the Rocky-like theatrics that dominate the home stretch — already familiar to anyone who remembers Louise Osmond’s equally winsome 2015 documentary on the subject, “Dark Horse” — are perhaps the least compelling aspect of a light matinee that can fray around the edges as it strains to thread the needle between “The Full Monty” and “Seabiscuit.” On the contrary, “Dream Horse” hits its stride off the track, where the paint-by-numbers drama of winning and losing takes a backseat to a more nuanced tale about the need to get back in the race.

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Dream Horse Review by Washington Post

Welsh Pride

by Michael O’Sullivan | Washington Post | May 19, 2021

Based on a true story, “Dream Horse” is a straightforward and unfussy feel-good drama about a group of ordinary people from a small Welsh town who decide to inject a little zest (and the risk of financial ruin) into their humdrum lives by breeding a racehorse, although none of them has the slightest experience in the field. Improbably, the stallion — named Dream Alliance for the motley assortment of naive and starry-eyed nobodies who form a syndicate to financially support, raise and race him — manages to do better than anyone could have imagined.

Anyone, that is, who has never seen a horse-racing movie before. (For the factual backstory, watch the charming documentary “Dark Horse.”)

The film’s protagonists, including the town drunk, the butcher and a lonely old lady — all of whom are colorful but clueless, with the exception of a savvy Cardiff accountant (Damian Lewis) who once owned and raced a thoroughbred — are not in it for the money but for something called the hwyl. It’s a Welsh concept (approximately pronounced “hoil”) that roughly translates to: a reason to get up in the morning.

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Dream Horse Review by LA Times

A Sense of Purpose, Companionship and Community

by Katie Walsh | LA Times | May 19, 2021

What’s in a name? For the plucky Welsh racehorse Dream Alliance, well, a lot. His mighty moniker reflects the big dreams of his unlikely owners, a syndicate of working-class folks from a tiny Welsh coal-mining village. Based on a true story, “Dream Horse” depicts the unlikely and amazing tale of Jan Vokes (played here by Toni Collette), who rallies her community to pitch in a few pounds a week and make a go of it in the high-stakes, high-class world of racehorses. In this rousing, inspirational film, one remarkable colt allows a group of people to regain a long lost connection with one another.

Welsh director Euros Lyn infuses the story of Dream Alliance, also the subject of the 2015 documentary “Dark Horse,” by Louise Osmond, with a warm sense of humor and heart, thrilling emotional stakes, and a deeply felt sense of local pride. The screenplay, by Neil McKay, demonstrates how something as formulaic as an underdog sports story can still resonate, with charming characters and relatable conflict.

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Dream Horse Review by The Independent

Steady Gallop

by AP News Wire | The Independent | May 20, 2021

The based-on-a-true-story “Dream Horse,” about a Welsh bartender who turns unlikely race horse breeder, is a feel-good movie that’s a little too heavy on the “feel-good” to really do the trick.

But as with all long shots that pay off, “Dream Horse” has its hard-to-deny charms. While it deviates little from the conventions of the “Billy Elliot”/”The Full Monty” formula, Euros Lyn’s film also doesn’t stray from a dependable course of underdog triumph, midlife renewal and community spirit.

The performances by Toni Collette as the determined Jan Vokes, and Owen Teale, as her curmudgeonly but dedicated husband with a mouth half full of teeth, go a long way to enlivening it. So does a sense of Welsh pride. Outside “How Green Was My Valley” and Anthony Hopkins’ recent awards acceptance speeches, the richly rugged, pastoral land on the western shores of Great Britain seldom attracts the spotlight like it does here. It’s in these two things — the Vokes’ relationship and the movie’s Welsh heart — that “Dream Horse” finishes ahead.

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Dream Horse Review by Slant Magazine

A Warm-Hearted Tribute to a Spirited Animal and People

by Mark Jenkins | Slant Magazine | May 17, 2021

***3 out of 4 stars***

Anyone who’s seen Dark Horse, Louise Osmond’s 2015 documentary about a group of poor Welsh villagers pooling their money to bankroll a race horse, will know what’s going to happen in Dream Horse, a fictionalization of the earlier film. But, then, so will anyone who’s ever seen an underdog sports movie, or one of those British ensemble comedies that celebrate working-class hopes and schemes. The comic drama works because of the smarts and relative subtlety of Euros Lyn’s direction and Neil McKay’s screenplay, and thanks to a winning cast of Welsh locals and a few outsiders, notably the versatile Toni Collette, who never lets her accent slip from south Wales to her native New South Wales.

Collette deftly plays Jan Vokes, a middle-aged empty-nester who tends a supermarket cash register by day and a social-club bar at night. Her affinity for animals is established in the opening scene, in which she awakens in the bed she shares with her long-unemployed husband, Brian (Owen Teale), and a huge dog, before then stumbling into the kitchen to be greeted by a convalescent goose. Jan doesn’t covet a horse until she overhears local tax accountant Howard Davies (Damian Lewis) at the club, boasting about his success with a horseracing syndicate. (The story is partly true but missing some sobering details.) Inspired, Jan calls a meeting of neighbors in the depressed former mining town, and persuades enough of them to tithe weekly to fund the purchase of a mare. The winning argument involves hwyl, a Welsh word that can be translated as “fun” but also as “collective spirit.”

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