True Story of a Welsh Village That Bought a Racehorse is a Winner!
by Peter Bradshaw | The Guardian | June 3, 2021
****4 Stars ****
Yes, it’s schmaltzy, very schmaltzy, but with strong performances by Toni Collette and Damian Lewis the odds are that you’ll love it.
Six years ago I found myself gripped by the overwhelmingly likable documentary Dark Horse, which told the amazing true story of Janet Vokes, a former whippet breeder and pigeon fancier from the depressed Welsh village of Cefn Fforest who organised a community syndicate to buy a racehorse. The drinkers at Jan’s local chipped in a weekly £10 sub and their horse, symbolically called Dream Alliance, wound up winning the Welsh Grand National, basically making it the Seabiscuit of the valleys.
I predicted at the time that this would be remade as a fiction feature with Imelda Staunton as Jan and Jim Broadbent as her hangdog husband Brian. Well, actually it’s Toni Collette and Owen Teale, with Damian Lewis playing Howard Davies, the local tax accountant and breezy man-of-the-world whose dangerously addictive love of horseracing inspires Jan. The resulting movie may be a bit schmaltzy – actually, a lot schmaltzy – but I couldn’t help enjoying it: like Chariots of Fire, only with horses. That comparison, however, may be down to Chariots cast member Nicholas Farrell here playing the shrewd professional trainer Philip Hobbs.