Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story


During the opening credits, Lee said “Big music.” I knew exactly what she meant. It was sweeping, grand, inspirational, all played over fantastic views of the Kentucky countryside. Which meant we were about to see either a grand, inspirational story … or a cliché movie that had to fall back on the sound track to jerk your tears. I had a pretty good idea which it would be.

So, first, really crappy title, okay? And “inspired” seems to be the key word. A down-on-his-luck horse trainer and his little daughter acquire a horse that broke her leg in a big race. She was a champion; now she’s soon to be dog food. But wait … they nurse her back to health, and …


Oh, screw it. If you can’t figure out every scene of this movie ten minutes to an hour before it happens, you’ve never seen a movie or read a book. I was muttering actual lines of dialogue five seconds before they were delivered. Nursing this horse back to health manages not only to rehabilitate the trainer (Kurt Russell), but also his jockey, and heal the relationship between father (Kris Kristofferson) and son, husband and wife, and father and daughter. Plus, it sticks it to the multi-millionaire horse breeder and his evil Ay-rab horse-owning prince. Guess what? Soñador wins the big race!

So why did I rent it, and why did I stick it out to the end? First, because a predictable movie is not always a bad movie. This is not, it’s just … standard. An evening wasted, but you don’t feel actually screwed. And second, for the privilege of seeing a genius at work. I’m speaking of Dakota Fanning, who just gets better and better, even in trash.

But if you want to see a good movie about horse racing, see Phar Lap, Seabiscuit, The Black Stallion, or even National Velvet. By the time you’re done, you’ll have seen everything there is to see in this movie.