Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dark Horse (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Dark Horse

This irrepressible documentary by Louise Osmond chronicles the symbiotic relationship between woman and horse. One day at a bar, grocery clerk Jan Vokes gets an image from a dream which turns into a concept: why not breed a race horse? So begins the improbable but true story of a Welsh bar and a horse called Dream Alliance.

It is the new millenium in the gray and  damp Welsh mining town of Cefin Fforest. When Jan pitches her vision, a few patrons bark but her husband Brian, an ex-bouncer, who bears a resemblance to actor Jim Broadbent knows that Jan can do anything once she sets her mind to it.  She promptly establishes a syndicate, raising enough money to have a foal. Long legged and sleek with a creamy brown coat the color of cappuccino, the horse is intensely affectionate, very like a puppy.

Jan hires trainer Philip Hobbs, who sets to the task, possessing a quirky streak. Little by little, the unknown horse financed by a small circle of jovial men at a bar, gallops up the ranks: fourth, third and then, second place.

And, as if to underscore the point of being a contender, the horse is given a blaze on his forehead and nose by mother nature, almost similar to Harry Potter, highlighting the numinous and magical.

Indeed, there does seem something supernatural about the animal. Some say Dream is empathic, having the ability to read human emotions. Whatever the case, most agree that like any proper Welshman, this horse is unpredictable.  At the core, Jan and the motley circle live for surprise. They want to shake up the upper crust, invading the porcelain-silver class and the ladies that become as feathered as peacocks on equestrian afternoons.

In a prepatory race for the Grand National, Dream gets into an accident and gives Death a brown eyed stare.

With its amiable humor and a touch of the zany, this film is plucky and beguiling. Most heartfelt is the bond the entire group shares with Dream, especially when deciding on the approval of a life-saving surgery that borders on science-fiction. All the better to invade the moneyed class.

In defiance, Brian with teeth as green as a training field, does something unheard of in racing history. He brings his own lunch.

Unassuming, joyful and ebullient, "Dark Horse" is one film without an agenda and refreshingly so. Full of stories and good cheer, the film merely shows events as is.

Everyone likes an underdog and Dream, the horse and the film is among the best, one part "Rocky" and one "Made in Dagenham." In addition to a racer, Dream was an empath magician when it counted.

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