It’s a true story that unfolds almost exactly like a Weinstein-produced fictionalized remake would—and it’s still almost absurdly satisfying. Director Louise Osmond tracks the remarkable tale of a group of working-class residents in a Wales coal-mining town—led by barmaid/grocery store custodian Jan Vokes—who join financial forces to breed and train a steeplechase race horse they dub Dream Alliance. The unadorned, improbable tale of Dream Alliance’s career alone would make for a terrific bit of journalism, but Osmond does a near-perfect job of putting the elements together—archival footage where available, only the most necessary background information about the key players, dreamy images of the Welsh landscape, and talking-head interviews that bubble over with the charm and personality of the subjects. In some ways, every bend and twist of the narrative might feel manipulative if they were part of a purely-fabricated script, right down to the anthropomorphizing of Dream Alliance as an embodiment of his hometown’s feisty spirit. Yet the exuberant emotions of the real-life participants make Dark Horse a rarity among retrospective documentaries: a lump-in-the-throat, tears-in-the-eyes crowd-pleaser.
Director: Louise Osmond
Producer: Judith Dawson, Julian Ware, Lizzie Francke, Anna Higgs, Anna Miralis and Adam Partridge