Dream Horse (CREDIT: Kerry Brown/Bleecker Street & Topic Studios)

Starring: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale, Joanna Page, Karl Johnson, Steffan Rhodri, Anthony O’Donnell, Nicholas Farrell, Siân Phillips

Director: Euros Lyn

Running Time: 113 Minutes

Rating: PG for A Few Horse Troubles

Release Date: May 21, 2021 (Theaters)/June 11, 2021 (On Demand)

I watched Dream Horse right in the thick of Triple Crown season, so I was very much in the mood for some equine racing drama. (Or at least as much as I possibly can be in the mood in any given year.) But this is no American horse racing movie! No indeed, the action is across the pond in Wales. But that’s perfectly fine, because as far as I can tell (as someone who’s only watched the sport on TV and never in person), the Welsh racing courses look fairly similar to Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Belmont Park. Much less familiar are those accents – I could barely understand what anyone was saying! Much of the cast members are Welsh natives, although the two leads are Australian (Toni Collette) and English (Damian Lewis), though they bite into the accents as heavily as everyone else. Despite this language-in-common barrier, the pastoral charms of Dream Horse still shine through. It’s an underdog sports story, after all, and that’s something I’m not inclined to resist.

The titular true-life thoroughbred goes by the name of Dream Alliance. His story is a bit of a cross between that of Seabiscuit and Secretariat (which is awfully convenient for American viewers). He comes from the humblest of beginnings, but his top-notch skills are undeniable. In his first race, he initially just bucks around in a circle. It takes his jockey about ten seconds to straighten him out and actually get him racing, but by the end of it, he’s within striking distance of the victory. It’s a moment practically tailor-made for whatever the Welsh equivalent of SportsCenter is.

But as awesome as Dream Alliance is, this movie is more about the motley crew surrounding him. They’re led by Jan Vokes (Colette), a bartender whose previous breeding experience consists of mere dogs and pigeons. She gathers a group of her neighbors to pool their money to raise Dream, and it’s a classic case of the hoi polloi crashing the dignified upper-crust party. Although nobody really seems to actually mind this rowdy crew that gets excited by things like stumbling across Andrew Lloyd Webber while taking a leak. This isn’t the upper crust so much as a relatively crustless society. Really, everyone seems to generally like each other, so the conflicts that do arise are thanks to the fateful whims of sudden injuries and limited finances. It all gets resolved with a classic prescription of “yearning for something bigger than your day-to-day life,” and the dosage is adequately effective.

Dream Horse is Recommended If You Like: Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Incredibly thick accents

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Lengths