Dream Horse [7/10]

Entirely predictable, that’s the adjective that springs into shape upon seeing the trailer for “Dream Horse,” a feelgood, “based on a true story” comedy drama set in the down-and-out Welsh village of Cefn Fforest. Unhappy checkout chick and whippet breeder decides, on an irrational whim, to buy a mare to breed a racehorse, funded by £10 a week from a motley syndicate … a recipe for fiscal disaster … only to end up winning the Welsh Grand National, steeplechase race numero uno. Add to that a potentially troubling close-up view of the perils of hurdling to horses (every race seems to feature a perilous tumble), and my first post-lockdown venture into a cinema threatened to be a bore. And yet, writer Neil McKay deftly pins the story around fast-paced, pithy conversations, the casting is sublime, and director Euros Lyn provides an immersion into both race thrills and racehorse syndicate thrills. Toni Collette and Damian Lewis are sturdy lynchpins, playing sympathetic folks with warmth, and humorous recurring cameos from the other syndicate members round out a pleasant hour and a half of classic, heartwarming cinema. Recommended.

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