Horses (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/01/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

Enjoyable, well made and thoughtful documentary that's by turns informative, gripping and just a little odd. If you've ever wondered what it might be like to be a horse, this is the documentary for you.

What's it all about?
Directed by Liz Mermin, Horses is a documentary following a year in the life of three Irish racehorses at the National Hunt stable in County Wexford, led by charismatic trainer Paul Nolan. As the film begins, we meet three horses Nolan has high hopes for: small horse Ardalan, who shows a talent for big jumps and seems to want to eat everything in sight; skittish horse Cuan na Grai, who's recovering from a tendon injury but is being given a second chance because he's won some races in the past; and powerful giant horse Joncol, who's only raced once and can't run on firm ground but inspires great hope and pride in all the staff.

The film follows the horses through their training procedures (including their strange diets - they're often fed an intriguing mixture of garlic and honey) and various races throughout the season, both in Ireland and England. We also meet Paul's younger, more businesslike brother James and elderly groom Tommy Woods, as well as a handful of trainers and jockeys.

The Good
Mermin eschews voiceover narration in favour of frequent captions and allowing Nolan, Woods and the other stable staff to do most of the talking. She also spends a huge amount of time just observing the three horses; what's really surprising is that the personality of each of the horses genuinely comes across, particularly in the case of the almost comically inquisitive Ardalan.

The film provides a number of thoughtful moments in which to ponder what it might be like to be a horse. There's also a remarkably odd score that actually sounds like a horse's idea of music.

The Great
In addition, the film provides all the thrills of the sports movie in the racing sequences (you'll gasp, you'll cheer, etc.) and there's also the constant tension of the fact that one of the horses could suddenly end its career with a serious injury. There's also a lot of humour in the film, thanks to the likeable and engaging personalities of Paul and Tommy.

Worth seeing?
Horses is an enjoyable, well made documentary that's something of a must-see for horse fans. Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/03/2019 07:01

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