Jeremy Irvine : Albert Narracott
Peter Mullan : Ted Narracott
Emily Watson : Rose Narracott
David Thewlis : Lyons
To his wife’s dismay farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough animal, but when his teenaged son Albert trains the horse and calls him Joey, the two becoming inseparable. When his harvest fails, the farmer has to sell Joey to the British cavalry and he is shipped to France where, after a disastrous offensive he is captured by the Germans
“We’ll be alright Joey. We’re the lucky ones, you and me. Lucky since the day I met you.”
This is a pleasant family film in which every member of the family will find a piece they’ll love most. The kids can dream about the adventurous part and the bond of friendship between a person and an animal. The women will be sobbing with all the sentimental and gooey stuff in this film while their handkerchief will get moister as the end nears. The tougher men of the family can set up for some authentic WWI footage.
The look and feel of this movie took me back to movies like “Old Yeller”. It looks sometimes like a painting. I had the feeling that it wasn’t always filmed outside. The storyline is much like “Forrest Gump”, only that this time a horse is the subject that runs through history and all sorts of situations. A comparison with Lassie is obvious cause Joey behaves like a trained collie. At one moment i expected him to go sit on his butt like a real dog.
The characters have a wide spectrum of feelings and personality. Joey is obviously highly intelligent an extremely loyal. Everyone would love to have such a horse hopping around in the garden. Not only does he express infinite love for Albert, but he’s also that strong to plow an entire field full of stumps and boulders in one night. Albert is the lucky boy to have this wonder horse as a friend. It is a simple, extremely boring and never aging man. For his age, I think he has an unhealthy interest in horses. Instead of chasing girls and hang out with friends, he only talks and thinks about his horse. Like someone noticed on IMDb : “I guess one day he would like to settle down with Joey the Horse, get married with Joey the Horse and have kids with Joey the Horse. His character is so utterly one dimensional and bland.”. Peter Mullan I thought was brilliant again in his role as the hardworking farmer who bought Joey on an auction right under the nose of his landowner. I think Mullan is one hell of an actor since I’ve seen him in “Tyrannosaur”. Emily Watson played convincingly the bossy wife and David Thewlis played an unkind version of a harsh landowner and I often hoped that he would be trampled under the feet of Joey .
As mentioned earlier, the film shows the adventurous life of Joey. From the pasture where he was born, to the farm where he needs to work hard, into the British army who loses Joey in a failed attack and he falls in the hands of the Germans. Then he ends up with a French girl and her grandfather (peak of dullness in the whole movie). Then again back in the hands of the Germans and eventually he gets tangled in barbed wire right in the middle of the battlefield. The end is so incredibly predictable with the obligatory moment when Albert and Joey meet again and return home to embrace his mother and eventually the father.
Terribly corny and sentimental film material in a heap, but filmed in a masterful way. The symbolic nature of the film is not hard to guess. The beauty of a deep-rooted friendship in contrast with the horrible hateful war in the background. This WWI was realistically portrayed on screen even though it seemed like a fairly clean war here. No blood spattered around, not even a drop. No ripped bodies. No hideous looking casualties caused by the gas attacks. In reality it was not a pretty picture. But all in all I thought it was pretty entertaining to watch and not boring at all. Although the moment when Joey got entangled in barbed wire was too ridiculous for words. I rather think that they would have used him as a practice target. For me, the moment when five cutters flew through the air to make him loose was a humorous slapstick moment .
A Walt Disney fairy tale with many war sentiment and heartbreaking melodramatic, but picturesquely portrayed. Not the best of Spielberg, but it certainly was not that bad and awful.
My rating 5 /10
Links : IMDB