Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Dreamer" (2005) - Movie Review

“Dreamer” which began as a complete hopeless debacle picks up out of nowhere and never stops running. It is a formula film of course with a horse destined to win with zillion odds against it. In fact I postponed watching the film because I have been little bit fed up on the string of motivational cheesy line up of movies in the past few days. Hence when there is a dad Pop Crane (Kriss Kristofferson) who swears not to come for a race and a script made villain Palmer (David Morse) along with a cute little girl (Dakota Fanning) trying to as usual act as adult shouldering with her dad Ben Crane (Kurt Russell), there is no way in the invisible hell this is going to be a better film. Well, I guessed wrong.

When the poor little farm girl gazes at the stable which is empty, there is father Ben gearing up in an early morning towards the race ground. He works for Palmer when we meet him with his working men Manny (Freddy Rodriguez) and Balon (Luis Guzmán). The stubborn cute girl Cale convinces her dad to ride along to the grounds and instantly falls in love with a horse, Sonya. Against the advice of Ben, Palmer puts Sonya through the race with a suspicious leg for a known drown in the sand. The Sheikh arrived from Dubai is not happy and hence with an altercation Ben leaves with the horse and his men.

I was beating myself for watching this at that point of time. With the orchestration spoon feeding the emotions, the film was slipping and slipping by a lot. With the cherubic beauty we see Cale feeding Sonya with popsicles in her healing process. They have hopes of breeding it and then make money out of it which of course is not going to work out because we know she has to race. With being hit again and again, Ben loses it and blames Cale for this misfortune to his wife which the girl overhears. Being the kid she is, she decides to run along with her horse and the horse runs, runs hard. Thus this paves some hope for the family of putting this horse in a race.

What is beautiful about the film is the actors and the way they work the dialogue to their favour. Young Dakota Fanning who has been the child actor portraying most of the time as this cold distant kid emanating far too maturity for that age gets that part used well and good. Hence when the naivety of an offspring is beckoned by the story she is right off with the smile. The thing which works on the side of the film is when Cale confronts her dad to not treat her as kid. With Ben we realize she is not a kid at all, at least when it comes to horses and Sonya. Kurt Russell has been absent from the screen for a while and it is unfortunate because the scene when he says his awareness of Cale feeding Sonya the popsicle is a seasoned actor walking it with flair of his own. Casual as it seems, that is the point of elevation for an otherwise formula film. It soars high and high after that.

So the horse wins as expected and every body is happy. But it is done with heart and actors side stepping for Fanning and Russell. Elisabeth Shue as Mrs. Crane, Kriss Kristofferson along with Rodriguez and Guzmán give the subtle supporting roles. Generally an unsatisfying film leaves me with an unfulfilled day. I hate to have a day like that. “Dreamer” made it a good if not a great day. It is convincing these characters and writer/director John Gatins works within the motivational churn routine to give a winner.

This film basically placed back the possibility of a story with an underdog a chance to be worked out well if the actors and script were right. We are into a point wherein the predictability has been accepted and moved on. But here when the horse gallops towards the victory, the director does not try anything fancy. We see the run in may be few angles with the slow motion very expected and required. The beauty of that gallop is like a metal music played with mellow transformation and we are sold.

Recently I was talking with a colleague on how I gauge films. And I am quite sure I have written about it in some review or other. Anyways, I explained that a film has a total control over its audience. It can be the cheesiest film ever and still get away with it. It can be a portrayal of the most moving story on paper and still lose its audience in presenting it. The art of the film is to evade the pit falls with cleverness or emotion or however manner they could to woo the viewers into liking the film and finish it with a good feeling of watching a better or best film. “Dreamer” in its controlled cheesiness and forgiving predictability sculpts the rest with originality and uniqueness to make it a better film than most out there.

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