A Constellation Entertainment (U.S.)/ Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution Group release of a Virginia's Run Prods. presentation of an Alliance Atlantis/ Holedigger/Knightscove/Wardenclyffe production. (International sales: Alliance Atlantis Communications, Canada.) Produced by Leif Bristow, Robert Schwartz. Co-producers, Bernard Bourret, Peter Markle, Robert Guy Miranda.
Directed by Peter Markle. Screenplay, Valarie Trapp, Peter Markle. Camera (color, widescreen), Joel Ransom; editor, Patrick McMahon; music, Nicholas Pike. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival, Jan. 12, 2003. (Also in Santa Barbara Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 102 MIN.
With: Gabriel Byrne, Joanne Whalley, Lindze Letherman, Kevin Zegers, Rachel Skarsten, Robert Guy Miranda.
In a welcome change of pace, the notoriously spotty Peter Markle ("The Personals," "Youngblood," "The Last Days of Frankie the Fly") has directed and co-written this effective, heartwarming entry in the enduring girl-and-a-horse genre. Except for absurdly overplaying the wickedness of their teen villain (Kevin Zegers), Markle and co-writer Valarie Trapp have fashioned the sort of well-made, family-friendly story that should satisfy its target audience.
Virginia Lofton (Lindze Letherman) has inherited her love of horses from her mother, but her father (Gabriel Byrne)--traumatized by his wife's death after being thrown from her mount--refuses to allow her to ride or even to fraternize with horses. But Virginia sneaks out to ride Stormy, a young horse whom she delivered and who regards her as his mother. Dad eventually softens, thanks to the appearance of a comely new trainer (Joanne Whalley), and Virginia gets her chance to ride Stormy in a big endurance race ... if she can combat the dirty tactics employed by the town bigwig's spoiled son, who does everything but twirl a waxed mustache. Tech credits are polished.