Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

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Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
Review (8/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

In Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Dakota Fanning plays Cale Crane. Cale is fascinated by horses. And why shouldn't she be? Her father Ben (Kurt Russell) is a horseman. His father Pops (Kris Kristofferson) is a horseman. It's in the Crane family blood. However, thing's aren't all great with the Cranes -- there's a little bit of a confidence problem. And, when the latest horse Ben's been training, named So?ador (Spanish for Dreamer) falls during a race and shatters a bone in it's leg, it's just the next in a series of bitter disappointments. The problem? Cale is there when "Sonya" (as they call her) falls, and Ben doesn't have the balls to put the horse down in front of her. Instead, he quits his job and decides to care for the horse himself, raising her to breed instead. If he can successfully breed her, maybe he can make a little cash to survive the debt he's drowning in. Before long, Cale and Sonya begin to form a bond, and Sonya slowly, but surely, begins to get stronger and stronger. And before long, she's ready to race again and Cale, who by this time holds a majority ownership in the horse, is determined to race her in the famed Breeders' Cup Classic. With everyone experiencing a renewed confidence, brought on by this little girl and her remarkable horse, can they come together to, against all odds, win the race that nobody said they could?

It's not too often you'll hear me praising a movie for being a great "family" movie (they just don't make them anymore) but if I were pressed to say, I'd highly recommend Dreamer to everyone. I may be a bit biased, being a father to a couple of girls myself, but if you're a father, and you have a daughter, and you're watching this movie and not bawling your eyes out, then there is something seriously wrong with you. Looking around during the movie, there were several times where I could see people (mothers, fathers, children) wiping tears from their eyes. It's just really heartfelt and touching.

There's a lot of credit due for the movie's success. For starters, there's first-time director John Gatins, who also wrote the movie. He pulled all the right strings. Then, the cinematography. Just beautiful. Also, the score, which perfectly complemented the ups and downs of the story. But most importantly, I really have to give credit to the father-daughter dynamic between Kurt Russell and especially Dakota Fanning. There were times where I though Dakota Fanning couldn't pull it off, but she did. And then some. And Kurt Russell. If I weren't enjoying the movie so much, I would've left the show mid-way through to call my own dad just to say 'thanks' for everything he's done. While I'm at it, the entire cast was excellent, including Elisabeth Shue, Kris Kristofferson, Luis Guzman, Freddy Rodriguez and even David Morse, even though he played a real horse's ass in the movie.

A few years ago, when Seabiscuit hit theaters, I thought that movie was just incredible. (Maybe I just like movies about horses.) I guess looking at the two films side by each, they are remarkably the same. Horses that nobody believes in defy the odds and, in doing so, inspires everyone around them to be more than they thought they could. And I'd say, if there were ever a race between these two mighty steeds, well, in my mind, Dreamer would leave Seabiscuit in the proverbial dust.

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