DIRECTOR: Simon Wincer
CAST: Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Curry, Daniel MacPherson and Jodi Gordon
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
How many “Good on ya, mate” can you sit through? If I were a betting woman, I would have said I can sit through quite a few before I start to fidget. I would have lost that bet.
For just over an hour and a half, this film has “good on ya, mate” lines passed around whether the scene is sombre or a celebration.
Set in Melbourne, Australia, in 2002, this is a biographical drama about love, loss and getting back in the saddle.
The story revolves around the annual Melbourne Cup – better known as The Cup – a horse race ranked above all other horse races.
Two brothers, Jason (MacPherson) and Damien Oliver (Curry) have grown up in this industry. Both followed in their dead father’s footsteps and became jockeys. If you follow the sport, you’ll know that the 2002 Cup was a trying time for the younger Oliver brother, Damien. The award-winning thoroughbred horse racing jockey had to deal with the demons of his past that were haunting his present and making it difficult for him to put his fears aside and ride another day.
There’s a dampness in the air for the duration of the film because Damien was just a toddler when he lost his father who fell off a horse while racing. And when we meet his adult self in the film his brother also goes the way of their father.
Damien’s fiancée is supportive but worried that his career may be hazardous to his health.
His mother wants him to continue the tradition. Clutching her pearls while watching her son on television, she says, “I just hope those Irish appreciate what they’ve got” when Damien starts riding with sought-after Irish trainer Dermot Weld (Gleeson).
Jason’s wife wants to know when the family curse of men falling to their deaths will be lifted. Once Damien is dead?
Damien, who has always lived in Jason’s shadow, just wants to make his mother proud, preserve the legacy of the Olivers and obviously, win the Cup.
If you don’t follow the sport then you’ll probably have a hard time following the dialogue. Unless, of course, you’re Australian. They speak really fast and mostly about racing – so it’s boring dialogue and straining to the ear. The cinematography is dull, probably owing to the fact that it’s mostly shot inside barns, in the vast green countryside and on the racetrack.
If you liked… Fired Up and Slapshot… you’ll probably like this