DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY
**** (out of 5)
October 21, 2005
Kurt Russell as BEN CRANE
Dakota Fanning as CALE CRANE
Kris Kristofferson as POP CRANE
Elisabeth Shue as LILY
David Morse as PALMER
Freddy Rodriguez as MANOLIN
Luis Guzman as BALON
Oded Fehr as BILL FORD
Directed by: John Gatins
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m not a huge fan of the “Inspired by a true story” moniker. I think it’s a bait-and-switch with the audience. Usually when you do some research on the “true story,” you find there to be very little the film was based on.
And the “inspired by” line is even worse than the “based on” line. It gives even more artistic license to make things up.
Now, I have no problem with a screenwriter making things up. Just don’t tell me it’s truth. That’s really my only beef with “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.” The filmmakers so wanted that true story element in there, they put it in the frickin’ title.
Once you get past the title, though, things aren’t that bad. I’ll be honest. I was dreading the screening of this film. It just seemed to be a chore to watch it. I kept wanting to watch something else. After all, it was October. Bring on the horror films!
But then I went to see “Dreamer.” And I found myself warming up to it. Sure, it was incredibly predictable. The characters were cut right out of a template. All the so-called surprises were telegraphed almost from the beginning of the film.
But I liked it. This time, the formula worked.
“Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” is about a girl named Cale (Dakota Fanning) whose father (Kurt Russell) ends up with a racehorse that has a broken leg. Against his better judgement, the father nurses the horse back to health. He can’t put it down or sell it because Cale has come to believe the horse to be hers. So he puts her in charge, and they set their sites on getting the horse to race again.
“Dreamer” has a lot of charm. And contrary to what everyone else seems to be saying, it’s not just because of Dakota Fanning. Sure, she’s a great little actress, and she does an excellent job here as the little girl who ends up with the fate of a horse in her hands. The other actors in the film do a fine job as well. Kurt Russell delivers a performance that will most likely be overshadowed by the critical adoration for Fanning, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t great.
Other members of the cast, including Kris Kristofferson, Luis Guzman and Freddy Rodriguez, just settle into a family atmosphere. The only weak link in the acting chain is Elisabeth Shue. I could take her or leave her, but fortunately she doesn’t see a whole lot of screen time.
The true story this is inspired by is about a similar mare named Mariah’s Storm. This horse broke its leg and was nursed back to a pretty worthy racehorse. The story similarities end there, considering the kid was a boy and the outcome was vastly different. However, it doesn’t bother me too much. The fire behind “Dreamer” is that it is an inspiring film. It’s a feel good movie in a time when we have so few of them.
In some strange way, I actually accept the “Inspired by a True Story” subtitle to “Dreamer.” Not because I’m accepting the true story bandwagon. But the heart and soul behind the film is the heart and soul behind the original story of Mariah’s Storm. It is a message that sometimes you can do the impossible.