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I've only ever seen one horsey film that was any good, in my opinion as a professional horse person. This was Seabiscuit. (OK, maybe International Velvet was not too bad, in the guilty pleasure type category)
Now I've seen two. Jappeloup is quality. Every care was taken, every attention was given, every bit of love was lavished, on what could have been a run of the mill sporty rags-to-riches script (heavily romanced from the true story of Jappeloup and Pierre Durand), but turned out to be a beautifully filmed, heartwarming, exciting story.
I'm not sure how much more I love it due to the fact that I was watching Jappeloup as a child in France, that I knew all the riders and it reminded me of very good and very nostalgic memories, but you could argue that it would have made me more critical of it - yet I couldn't find any obvious flaws and I found myself on the edge of the seat once or twice (even knowing the outcome as it's history!)
The acting is excellent as you would expect from such a high class bunch of actors; the story itself comes very close to excessive sentimentalism a few times, but never crosses the line. It's handled with delicacy and tact, and they have made the very most of a very predictable tale. The photography is astonishing, beautifully showcasing the french countryside, the pace is leisurely, giving you time to know the characters, the times (accurately depicted, from everybody smoking, drink driving, getting back on the horse no matter how hurt you were etc...all true, young people! - things have changed a lot). Special mention to the soundtrack which is wonderful, and the action scenes, with a car following Guillaume and filming superb and never done before jumping shots
In brief, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves horses. So much of it is very close to home; it really translates the passion, the fears, the doubts, the love, what makes us.
For others, rest assured the film is more than a horse film, it's a solid story a la Rocky filmed in a more subtle way. And you might get to understand what your daughter/friend/cousin sees in those beasts. Certainly I never thought showjumping could be this exciting to watch, and I'm partial to it already! True story films are usually bland, seen one, seen them all, but this is better and worth watching. Set yourselves on Seabiscuit, if you saw it. It's the same type of offering: a well made straightforward people story with a blessedly realistic horse background.
(I just watched it in Bluray since I couldn't get to see it on the big screen, and it's worth it. The quality of the picture and the colours are amazing)
8 out of 10
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