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2006-07-12 17:16


On a small farm in Kentucky, trainer Ben Crane and his daughter Cale rescue Sonador, a magnificent racehorse, destined for the abattoir after she shatters her leg on the track. Palmer, both the horse's manager and Crane's boss, fires Crane and hands the broken Sonador over as severance. Despite the Cranes' plan to breed their champion filly and make some much needed money by selling her foal, mother nature has other ideas and they are forced to think of an alternative way to make enough to save their farm. Through the rehabilitation of Sonador, a dispirited family is brought together as they set their sights on racing her once more in the prestigious Breeder's Cup.


If you're the kind of person who sat on the edge of your sofa cheering like an idiot as Seabiscuit hurtled towards the finish line, sobbed until you thought your heart would break in The Horse Whisperer, really believed that a quirky zebra could outrun all those thoroughbreds, and have a penchant for children named after vegetables, then screenwriter and director John Gatins wrote this one especially for you.

These days, plagued by pre-adolescent gawkiness, 11-year-old Dakota Fanning is walking around with what will someday soon be an orthodontist's Malibu beach house in her mouth. At least we can be sure that she's landing all these big roles on talent alone. As Cale Crane, an only child desperate for her father's affection, Fanning has grasped the role firmly, and this makes most plausible character in the film. Her performance is so honest and accurate that it almost makes up for the predictable, seen-it-before plot. You have to wonder why her talents couldn't have been supported more by the rest of the cast.

Enter Ben Crane (Kurt Russell), Cale's father and talented race horse trainer. Crane's inability to relate to anyone around him, let alone himself, lends itself to the portrayal of a strange man, evidently scarred by past traumas. It is unrealistic and unnerving to see a father completely unable to make even the smallest connection with his daughter, who is so hungry for his attention and subsequent acceptance. Although Russell hasn't thrown himself into it, it is heartening to watch him attempt to pull off a role vastly superior to his black-patch-over-one-eye stint aboard a sail boat with Goldie Hawn, back when striped knee-high socks were all the rage. The man has come a long way.

To add substance and a little room for moral development towards the end of the film, the dysfunctional father/child relationship plays itself out between Crane and own, estranged father played by Kris Kristofferson. They live on the same property and yet have not spoken in years. It's one of those 'get over it already' situations but is an essential source of some much needed dramatic capital further into the plot.

Dreamer reintroduces us to all the old cliches in screenwriting history, which, despite the possible negative spin for avid movie lovers, plants itself firmly as a dependable, conventional story which will not disappoint the younger members of the audience, for whom the movie was primarily written. With the classic unhappy family setup; the dream horse which, in the real world, would never race again; the overweight jockey who has vowed to never race again; and the seemingly impossible race which must be won against all odds, it's not rocket science to work out what's going to happen from the moment your bum hits the seat. Yes, there are a couple of feeble 'twists' here to throw you off, but none of them make you wonder for longer than a few moments.

The warm fuzziness and refreshing lack of profanity make Dreamer a perfect choice for a 'pizza and a movie' evening with the whole family. Be warned though, the chances of ALL of you enjoying it are pretty slim. Says Fanning "It's such a happy film. It's sweet, happy, heartwarming, and sad at the same time", so perhaps your 11-year-old will love it too.

So strap yourself in, butter that popcorn, and, in the spirit of puns, get ready to scream 'til you're hoarse.

- Kate Pare

This rehash of Seabiscuit and The Horse Whisperer is as wholesome as a digestive biscuit, and just as bland.

Amanda Robinson 2006/02/07 11:05 AM
Dreamer Firstly, Kate what'shername should maybe go and find herself a new job, because a DECENT reviewer will watch a movie with an open mind, and with its intended audience in mind! It is a beautiful story, artistically acted and brings a warm feeling to one when you leave the cinema. It caters for young and old horse crazy individuals and I personally felt the horsewrangler alone should win an award for this movie as it is incredibly difficult to choreograph horses. I can't wait to buy this on dvd. ps. with so few horsey movies for us fanatics out there, kindly find somebody who knows the front end from the back end of a horse to do the reviews!
Annamarie 2006/02/07 12:46 PM
Dreamer Best picture I have seen in a long time. Could have gone on and on DId not want it to stop yees
James 2006/02/07 12:57 PM
Dreamer The acting in this movie is average at best and the plot is completely devoid of any interesting plot twists and full of well worn cliches.This movie is acceptable for children and adults who detest thinking while watcihng a movie.Anyone else should stay away.
Norma Erasmus 2006/02/13 7:19 AM It was a brilliant movie about hope and passion. Makes you wish real life was like that. Yes
Riaan 2006/02/13 9:29 AM
Dreamer Great movie.. Its a bit predictable but still very enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone that want to think there is still some good in humanity.
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