A Horse of a Different Color | Film | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
Loading...

A Horse of a Different Color 

Thursday, Oct 20 2005
Comments
Photo by Joe LedererJohn Gatins, the writer and director of Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, likes to graze familiar pastures. Having written the scripts for two loosely fact-based sports melodramas (Hardball and Coach Carter), he makes it three in a row with this tale of a girl and her horse, and the result is a case study in how an unrepentant formula picture can be made to seem like it has nothing to be sorry about. Gatins treats his own clichés with such worshipful obeisance that Dreamer transcends them; it becomes like a vibrant, enveloping dream. The opening images — deep, gray skies thick with billowing storm clouds over infinitely green Kentucky fields — possess an almost supernatural quality, as if Gatins and his gifted cinematographer, Fred Murphy, were showing us the American farm belt not as it really is, but as it exists in our collective mythology. When the movie’s majestic horses round the track, they seem like prehistoric creatures brought back from extinction, and their throbbing neck muscles and galloping hooves in close-up have some of the ecstatic abstraction of Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century motion studies. Gatins is no less iconographic in regard to his characters — proud, hard-working, red-state types like plucky protagonist Cale Crane (Dakota Fanning), the daughter of onetime horse breeder Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) who’s been hit hard by the economics of contemporary farm culture. Now employed as a trainer, Ben has had to sell off his land piece by piece just to stay afloat. (It’s a role that the chronically underrated Russell seems to feel in his bones; his performance is built upon the small, deferential behaviors of a broken-down man.) Cale convinces herself that a badly injured filly her father is nursing back to health can return to champion racing form — the horse is a metaphor for her father — and, by Jove, if she doesn’t will just that to happen! This is as corny as it sounds, and yet not half as cloying and sentimental as you expect. At the end of the day, the horse may win the race, but the fate of the American heartland looms large and unresolved. DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY | Written and directed by JOHN GATINS | Produced by HUNT LOWRY, BRIAN ROBBINS and MICHAEL TOLLIN | Released by DreamWorks | Citywide

Related Stories

  • Ebola Crackdown

    If you've been to West Africa and had contact with a confirmed Ebola patient, you're probably in for 21 days of confinement under a new California Department of Public Health mandate. Yeah, the Golden State is the latest in the union to jump on the bandwagon of implementing Ebola-containment policies...
  • Wealth & Taxes

    It's no wonder that people from across the land and around the world still come to California seeking virtual gold. It's still the state with some of America's greatest potential salaries, at least when it comes to small-business employment. So says personal finance site NerdWallet, which this week revealed the...
  • Price of Blue 14

    The Democrat-Republican divide often comes down to the difference in how we believe America can best prosper. Democrats say the collective power of the people can protect the financial interests of the everyday worker. Republicans often argue that freedom from government fosters economic well-being. It turns out the Democrat way...
  • California Thursdays Brings Fresh Local Produce to Schoolkids

    Nearly 1 million students in California, including in Los Angeles, will be test subjects for an experimental school food approach – feeding them freshly prepared, locally grown foods. It’s part of a statewide pilot program called California Thursdays that seeks to do something audacious – serve California food to California...
  • Obama Love

    Do you really care what users of a sexually charged hook-up app for guys' guys think about politics? We do! Remember we're L.A.'s alternative news source. The gay male community is relatively happy with the performance of President Obama, who has made no secret of his support for LGBT rights...
Reach the writer at sfoundas@villagevoice.com

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Thu 30
  2. Fri 31
  3. Sat 1
  4. Sun 2
  5. Mon 3
  6. Tue 4
  7. Wed 5

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office Report

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!

Now Trending