Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
You can tell just from the
title that Dreamer-Inspired by a True Story is as old-fashioned,
sturdy and just slightly corny as the heartland farm where it takes place.
It is a movie that wants to be the personification of the American dream;
the story of poor underdogs who through pluck, determination and hard
work are able to buck the odds and achieve their dreams. These are
good people from sturdy stock who live purely, love their extended family
and are rewarded for their reverence. It is a film completely free of
cynicism, irony or even much of a sense of humor. It is the perfect
red state movie.
It is also a surprisingly
involving movie. Even though you know pretty much everything which
will happen in the movie within the first fifteen minutes, it is hard to be
so cold hearted that you will not be thawed by this formulaic-but-charming
Kurt Russell plays Ben
Crane, owner of the only horse farm in the state with no horses. He is
the estranged son of a legendary horseman (Kris Kristofferson plays the
father, who does not appear to have a name, he is just known by all as
Pops.) Due to monetary woes, Ben has had to sell off most of the
family land and had to take a job as a horse whisperer for a selfish,
uncaring multimillionaire (played by David Morse) who treats the horses as
Ben is asked by his
hard-working-but-eternally-cheerful-and-supportive wife (Elisabeth Shue) to
take their adorable daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) to the track with him for
work. While there, she meets the poor-but-lovable stable-workers (Luis
Guzman and Freddie Rodriguez) and a budding champion horse named Sonador.
When the mare is injured because the greedy owner disregards Ben's advice not
to race her, Ben refuses to put down the animal in front of his
eleven-year-old daughter. This costs him his job, but in lieu of back
payment, Ben accepts the hobbled horse.
Ben sees the horse as a
business possibility, she is a thoroughbred child of champions who could
make a fortune through going out to stud. Cale falls in love with the
horse and decides that they can heal it to a point where it can race again.
So as an act of love, Ben signs ownership of the horse to his daughter,
allowing her to live out her dreams with the horse.
The subtitle trumpets that
Dreamer is "Inspired by a True Story" (which is not exactly the same
thing as being a true story) and while there is enough happening
here that seems like it probably is just poetic license, the film mostly
does ring true and sincere.
This is probably because the
cast is to a one stolidly behind the the story. Great old pros like
Russell, Kristofferson, Shue and Morse play their archetypal characters as
if they were completely new. Guzman and Rodriguez (from Six
Feet Under) bring a wonderful heart and lightness to the film. And
Fanning shows, yet again, why she sometimes seems to be the only child
actress working today; her performance is subtle, restrained and clearly
Dreamer is a
well-worn and aged story, but despite its familiarity, it reverberates with
heart and hope.
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Posted: November 6, 2005.