Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story offers a rich and satisfying experience for both child and parent alike. The film is director John Gatins' feature film debut. Also written by Gatins, it tells the story of a father who, for the love of his daughter, sacrifices his job and livelihood to save the life of an injured racehorse named Sonya. Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) was once a champion racehorse breeder. His gifts as a trainer are now being wasted on making other men's fortunes, and are for the most part leaving him in dire straits financially. He has been forced to sell off a lot of his family's farm, something which leads Ben to question his own worth as a father and as a provider. His daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) idolizes him and her faith in her father is renewed when Ben takes in the injured horse even when everyone around him advises him not to. With the help of his estranged father, Pop (Kris Kristofferson), and his two assistants, Balon (Luis Guzman) and Manny (Freddy Rodriguez), Ben works hard in order to mend Sonya's wounded leg. In the meantime it is the family's wounds and differences that need healing. As the story unfolds and Sonya's health improves so too does the relationship between Ben and his father. They begin to reconcile after years of suffering through a strained relationship as they work together towards one common goal: Cale's dream of having Sonya race in the Breeder's Cup, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. As Sonya works her way back to recovery each character realizes a certain sense of achievement and accomplishment.
Gatins wonderfully parallels the horse's road back to good health with each character's personal journey as each must conquer their own demons. The most obvious of the film's themes deal with the family, with personal happiness and faith in one's self, and what more could ask you ask for from a family film? Gatins has crafted a story that children can definitely fall in live with as they root for Sonya to recover and race once again. Similar to Seabiscuit, another recent film about horseracing, Dreamer is aimed at a younger audience. However, parents will still enjoy the inspiring story and overall excellent performances from Russell and Fanning, but in particular by Kris Kristofferson, an actor who I feel we don't see enough of in movies. At 98 minutes the film does not feel too long. Gatins weaves through the story at just the right pace so as not leaving the viewer feeling cheated.
-"Who is Mariah's Storm" featurette
-"Filming with Horses" featurette
-"How to Groom a Horse" featurette
-"Meet the Dreamer's Cast" featurette