A Horse Of A Similar Color

Columbus Alive | October 20, 2005
Directors working on kid-and-her-horse stories may show minor, individual variations in pace and style, but they usually follow a path of companionship, crisis and against-all-odds triumph that already bears a lot of hoof prints. Screenwriter John Gatins chooses this route for his debut as director and, also no stranger to the fact-based and inspirational (Coach Carter), sets course with the true tale of a prize-winning race horse who overcame crippling injuries—at least enough to tag “Inspired by a true story” onto the title.

The serviceable plot involves Kurt Russell’s down-on-his-luck trainer Ben, who’s been forced by creditors to sell off most of the family farm and take orders from the snide minion (an appropriately evil David Morse) of an Arab prince who owns the prize filly Sonador. When the horse breaks its leg, Ben loses his job, but takes the filly to stop vets from putting it down in front of his visiting daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning).

As they nurse the horse back to health and discover she has some race left in her, the once distant Ben and Cale grow closer, urged along by wife Elizabeth Shue and an intrusive string section, until they form a family so picture-perfectly normal, it recalls the clan in A History of Violence minus the irony.

The film’s sentimental hooey and easily foreseeable outcome would be intolerable if not for the cast. Morse, Luis Guzmán and Freddy Rodríguez add color to limited supporting characters, and both Russell and Shue are endearing, building genuine chemistry with Fanning. But as is often the case with the child star, she is the film’s emotional workhorse. It may have been tightly packaged to make movement smoother, but the movie’s still a heavy load, and it’s surprising how gracefully her skinny shoulders handle the weight.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 62 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
  • Phone: (614) 221-2449