About a week ago a friend called to tell me I should take my kids to see Dreamer. Knowing what horse people we were, he said it was a must see for our family. We took his advice today and dodged the cold and a lazy Sunday afternoon to take in this movie, which is about much more then horses, or even dreams coming true. It’s about the family, about how they hurt each other, and eventually how they help each other to heal.
Set in the heart of horse country, Lexington Kentucky, Dreamer is about the Crane family and a race horse, Sonodor (Spanish for dreamer), aka Sonja. The movie opens with the beautiful landscape, and the voice-over of young Cale Crane, played by Dakota Fanning, talking about the large pastures, the big barn, and the comment that “It must be the only horse farm in Lexington, without any horses.” A fact that soon changes.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Ben Crane, played by Kurt Russell, is a well-respected trainer working for Palmer. Crane’s boss, ignores his advice, that Sonodor is not fit to run the race and the horse takes a horrific fall, breaking its cannon bone. Everyone but Crane is set on putting the horse down, and an argument ensues. In the end, Crane losses his job, but gains the horse.
More then second chances and healing for the horse, the movie is also about the many broken relationships that are in need of repair, that of young Cale and her father, as well as Ben and his father, Pop, played by Kris Kristofferson.
A Dreamworks Production, Dreamer, inspired by a true story, takes you through several emotional highs and lows, often you think things are going well, only to find the whole group faced with another series of challenges.
Both Kurt Russell and Kris Kristofferson put on the wonderful heartfelt performances that you would expect from these veteran actors, but it is the exceptional performance from young Fanning that gives the movie its heart. Elizabeth Shue also gave a mention worthy performance; she has matured into quite the actress, playing the headstrong but sensitive wife and mother that holds the three generations of Crane’s together.
The only low-point is not really the fault of the film. On the contrary, it is a very honest depiction of how the racehorse world spins on the bottom line. The decision to run the injured horse in the beginning of the movie is about money, as is Crane’s original interest in keeping the horse after it was injured. He hopes to get the horse sound enough to breed so he can make money strictly on the lineage. As both the family and the horse heal, the financial obsession seems to fade a bit, but it is still an integral part of the film up to the end.
As it was to me, I highly recommend this family film, not only to horse people, but to anyone looking for an interesting, well portrayed story that takes you through ups and downs to a satisfying end.