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film review

Directed by Euros Lyn and starring Toni Collette, the film Dream Horse tells the inspiring true story of race horse Dream Alliance.Ffilm Cymru Wales

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  • Dream Horse
  • Directed by Euros Lyn
  • Written by Neil McKay
  • Starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale
  • Classification N/A; 113 minutes
  • Opens Aug. 6

In Euros Lyn’s intensely inspirational real-life drama Dream Horse, a group of less-than-affluent Welsh townspeople consider financing the breeding of a racehorse. They are advised not to do it for a jackpot, but for the “feeling of emotional motivation – the energy.”

The same goes for those watching Dream Horse: Don’t bet on a big payoff. This is a small, sentimental and straightforward film that offers little in the way of surprises. Instead, it wins on heart and a simple message about the value in fighting to keep one’s dreams alive.

Dream Horse comes on the hooves of the 2015 Sundance-winning documentary Dark Horse, which first chronicled the story of the thoroughbred with humble beginnings who achieves far more than could have been reasonably expected. The stallion is Dream Alliance, so-named for the charismatic collection of punters who share ownership in the horse and the metaphor it represents.

Toni Collette is Jan Vokes, the barmaid and driving force behind the small-time racing syndicate. Her existence heretofore has been identified by her roles as a daughter or as a wife or as a mother. “I’ve never been me,” she confides to the horse.

Damian Lewis ostensibly co-stars as a tax accountant who hates his job and has his own unfulfilled life goals. Because his character is given less attention, his story is relegated to supporting status within the film’s overall theme of not giving up on aspirations – a theme upon which director Lyn whips away like it was a race horse, to use a simile he would obviously understand.

Dream Alliance, a come-from-behind specialist, finishes fourth in his first race. Then third, then second. Guess which way this film is heading? Yes, the story is predictable, as are so many people’s lives. However, things can change, as Dream Horse tells us, as long as one stays in the race.

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s pick designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)