Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
- John Gatins
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, May 22, 2006
Ben Crane (Kurt Russell), a race-horse trainer, takes his daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) to a race where she falls in love with a horse named Soña. Unfortunately the horse has an accident right there and Ben is fired by his tyrant boss (David Morse). Ben then bargains to keep the horse to help her heal along with his estranged father Pop (Kris Kristofferson), his daughter and his employees Manolin (Freddy Rodríguez) and Balon (Luis Guzmán).
I don’t need to say that the movie is inspired by a true story, for the title of the movie says just that. For the record: I hate the title. They could’ve used the “inspired” bit as a tagline, but why as part of the title? It sounds so lame and cheesy I don’t even want to go there.
Truth is, Dreamer is a movie specifically targeted at children, perhaps not too young but not too old either. There’s a lack of cynicism in the movie that sometimes crosses the line into manipulation, as every scene is staged as if a lesson is learned, a good deed is done and/or a message is sent. You get the idea. It’s all hokey and somehow artificial, but director John Gatins somehow makes it work as a whole. That’s mainly because we like the characters. We identify with them. And we love the horse as well. So we all want to see them get to the happily ever after finale.
I also got a kick out of the relationships between some characters. Sometimes it felt as if the movie was about Ben’s characters instead of Cale’s. And that’s a good thing. The man was disappointed by his father and has a daughter with whom he barely gets along. His dreams were also crushed a while ago, and his life has become routine. Thankfully he’s got a loving and understanding wife, who is his rock and part of why he ultimately decides to change some things in his life. The transformation, in every sense, is heart-breaking.
I’ve gushed a lot in this site about Dakota Fanning’s extraordinary talent at such a young age. Impressively enough, she continues to be up to the hype, delivering another nuanced, wonderful performance that does not have any of the usual traps into which child actors usually fall. She’s a natural. Kurt Russell is also excellent as the girl’s father, a conflicted man that slowly changes his view of the world surrounding him. Elisabeth Shue appears as his wife in what is a small, yet pivotal and well-acted part. The rest of the cast is also good, although I didn’t really like David Morse as the villain, but maybe it was his subplot that seemed out-of-place altogether.
Nice score by John Debney and beautiful cinematography by Fred Murphy.
“So what? So what? Just let it take her as far as it can.”
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