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"There are other things that I could do, but there's really nothing that I love as much as horse racing." Chantal Sutherland
I dislike being forced to feel good, as movies from the likes of Disney Studios regularly do, but Dark Horse, writer/director Louise Osmond's documentary about the Welsh "thoroughbred," Dream Alliance, made me feel better than when I walked in because it's true! Owned by a group of Welsh commoners from a small town, Dream is a winner from its beauty to its heart.
Not only is the story a rouser, but Osmond also uses cinematic techniques like artful slow motion, and she has the real characters from the story narrate with their abundant charm and impish humor. To listen to their affection for their horse and see how it has changed their lives to a loving community is to experience an authentic story. Although I'm not a fan of living anywhere other than the city, this town could easily win me over.
Not surprisingly, Dark Horse won the Sundance audience award this January. It appeals to those who love a story about working folk one-upping the gentry in the sport of kings, and those, especially Americans, who favor the underdog winning the gold ring. In this story, the horse, in 2000 the brainchild of a local barmaid, Jan Vokes, is comfort and joy for a town that has experienced the shutdown of its mine and the loss of spirit.
The strength of the doc is, as it should be, in the talking heads on camera, working-class folk with ample personality and pluck to make engaging commentators and models for a happy citizenry who never envy the swells, the usual owners of race horses. The class theme is handled by Osmond subtly and respectfully, easy enough because the Welsh are an independent and proud lot not about to envy anyone, much less the rich.
Osmond crafts this story as if it were a seamless fiction, so filled it is with the vicissitudes of life that affect all of us not able to live off fortunes. The heroes of this story are the townspeople who invest in the horse when economic times are tough and ROI not certain.
Beautiful horse. Beautiful film
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