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Dreamer - Inspired By a True Story (Widescreen

Art House & International movie directed by John Gatins

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Sweet without becoming Saccharine

  • Jun 12, 2006
John Gatins knows his way around uplifting 'family movies' and brings them to a new level with DREAMER. Though the story's pattern is a well used and familiar one, Gatins has created a strong story and graced it with a fine cast, and though we know from the outset what the ending will be, it is the getting there that is the pleasure of this very watchable film.

Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) lives on a once famous Kentucky horse farm, a farm where he and his father Pop Crane (Kris Kristofferson) once bred racehorses. Now the farm is horseless and Ben simply works as a trainer. His disappointment in his life situation is reflected in his relative neglect of his wife Lily (Elizabeth Shue), who works as a waitress to make ends meet, and of his daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning). His life is further encumbered when he advises his boss Palmer (David Morse) that the horse he has trained is not ready for a race and Palmer forces Ben to race the horse only to have the horse Sonador break a leg. Ben is devastated, Palmer fires Ben and offers Ben severance pay of $6000. plus ownership of Sanador, saving the injured horse from being put down. This seemingly bottoming out of Ben's career results in his winning his family back: Cale and Ben's faithful workers Balon (Luis Guzman) and ex-jockey badly injured in his past Manolin (Freddy Rodriguez) all work to restore Sanador's health. Together they nurse Sonya AKA Sanador back to being able to run and reunite the fractured family all in the cause of creating a new life through faith and renewed familial bonding. Sanador is entered in a low level race and while she doesn't win, she demonstrates her viability as a racehorse. Evil Palmer attempts to buy back the healed Sanador, but Ben has 'sold' the horse to Cale who decides to refuse the buy and proceeds to race Sanador in the Breeder's Cup race - of course winning.

What could have been a sugary weeper of a story is brought to a fine level of reality by the fine cast. Fred Murphy is the superb cinematographer, John Debney continues his sterling reputation of composing fine musical scores, and Gatins pulls it all together. DREAMER may be a family movie, but it is one with enough finesse to please just about every viewer. Grady Harp, June 06

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More Dreamer: Inspired by a True St... reviews
review by . July 16, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I loved this film in the movie theater and could barely contain my excitement to purchase it when it came out on DVD. I found the story inspirational. I highly recommend DREAMER. It's the perfect movie for the entire family.
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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The title is a mouthful, butDreamer: Inspired by a True Storyhits the winner's circle as a warm and inspiring family film. Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) is a Kentucky horse trainer who watches in horror as a championship filly breaks its leg during a practice run. Ordinarily that means curtains, but today Ben's daughter, Cale (Dakota Fanning), is at the track, and Ben impulsively buys the horse and loses his job in one fell swoop. The rehabilitation process is almost too much for a farm that's already struggling to survive in a modern economy, but the horse turns out to be a much-needed salve to the nearly broken family, including Ben's wife (Elisabeth Shue) and father (Kris Kristofferson). The cast is excellent, especially Fanning (who at age 11 has become a major star and was branded byEntertainment Weeklyas the most powerful actress in Hollywood), and the film is well-paced by director-writer John Gatins and beautifully shot by cinematographer Fred Murphy. Surely the ultimate fate of the horse and the family won't surprise anyone, but young girls who love horses often don't need a surprise ending. They need a reason to cheer, andDreamerdelivers all the way. (Ages 6 and older: moments of horse peril)--David Horiuchi
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Director: John Gatins
Screen Writer: John Gatins
DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Dreamworks Video
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