I've only ever seen one horsey film that was any good, in my opinion as a professional horse person. This was Seabiscuit. (OK, maybe International Velvet was not too bad, in the guilty pleasure type category)Now I've seen two. Jappeloup is quality. Every care was taken, every attention was given, every bit of love was lavished, on what could have been a run of the mill sporty rags-to-riches script (heavily romanced from the true story of Jappeloup and Pierre Durand), but turned out to be a beautifully filmed, heartwarming, exciting story.I'm not sure how much more I love it due to the fact that I was watching Jappeloup as a child in France, that I knew all the riders and it reminded me of very good and very nostalgic memories, but you could argue that it would have made me more critical of it - yet I couldn't find any obvious flaws and I found myself on the edge of the seat once or twice (even knowing the outcome as it's history!)The acting is excellent as you would expect from such a high class bunch of actors; the story itself comes very close to excessive sentimentalism a few times, but never crosses the line. It's handled with delicacy and tact, and they have made the very most of a very predictable tale. The photography is astonishing, beautifully showcasing the french countryside, the pace is leisurely, giving you time to know the characters, the times (accurately depicted, from everybody smoking, drink driving, getting back on the horse no matter how hurt you were etc...all true, young people! - things have changed a lot). Special mention to the soundtrack which is wonderful, and the action scenes, with a car following Guillaume and filming superb and never done before jumping shotsIn brief, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves horses. So much of it is very close to home; it really translates the passion, the fears, the doubts, the love, what makes us.For others, rest assured the film is more than a horse film, it's a solid story a la Rocky filmed in a more subtle way. And you might get to understand what your daughter/friend/cousin sees in those beasts. Certainly I never thought showjumping could be this exciting to watch, and I'm partial to it already! True story films are usually bland, seen one, seen them all, but this is better and worth watching. Set yourselves on Seabiscuit, if you saw it. It's the same type of offering: a well made straightforward people story with a blessedly realistic horse background.(I just watched it in Bluray since I couldn't get to see it on the big screen, and it's worth it. The quality of the picture and the colours are amazing)8 out of 10
Jappeloup is a beautifully shot film ostensibly about the titular horse, who with Pierre Durand aboard, won gold for France at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in the show - jumping event. Directed by Christian Duguay and co-scripted by lead, Guillaume Canet (himself surprisingly, a very experienced junior equestrian), playing Durand, it's really one of those films probably best appreciated by horsey people. It charts the extremely episodic rise of the pair, including a near disastrous stint at the 1984 Los Angles Olympics, before the grand finale at Seoul.Unfortunately Jappeloup is mostly uninterested in the horse that it's titled after. It never goes any way to offering an explanation as to why Jappeloup himself, is recognised as a national hero in France, or even regarded internationally as one of the very great show-jumping equines. There's a post credits cursory reference to the fact that Jappeloup's competition retirement ceremony was held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But viewers of this extremely long biopic, are completely left in the dark, as to what really made the horse special, apart from a singular reference that he was small, but jumped well.Instead we get a way too-detailed, decade long look at the life of Durand and his family members, with an overly special emphasis (Why, I have no idea.) placed on his father Serge, played very agreeably by Daniel Auteuil. Trials and tribulations are met and slowly overcome. Births, deaths, marriages and uneasiness about chosen vocations are slowly explored, before a sudden dramatic near disaster involving a fiery float near a busy freeway, leads us to an emotional, but ironically almost too brisk climax.Boasting exceedingly strong production values, a strong cast and convincing locations, Jappeloup nevertheless, as a story, drags its reins. At 130 minutes long, it is filled with too many unnecessary situation human dramas and barely scratches the surface of its supposedly featured subject. It is unable to muster much excitement, or even make a good case for the horse's significance. Superficially to this layman, it appears to stick relatively closely to the key facts. But the fact that the real life Pierre Durand sued the film's producers, doesn't add much lustre to this much too, run of the mill story.
I was reluctant to go for the ride. I think movies about great horses cannot make great movies, even if they are very well done they only cater for a limited public: kids if it's mostly a fable, or connoisseurs if it's more of a true story.Then I am no fan of Guillaume Canet. The lack of depth in his turf plus the fact that he envisioned the Jappeloup story as 'Rocky meets jumpers' really did not appeal to me. And even if I was crazy about jumping I would have had these many reservations.Now Jappeloup has been cleverly crafted around the choices that rider Pierre Durand had to face, with the central paternal figure played to perfection by Daniel Auteuil. This is enough to tell an emotional story that peaks with every jumping show.The seminal choice for Durand to leave his lawyer job to live his passion to the full is well timed, but emotion really lies with the father's simple and heartfelt lines. The father then comes on schedule to ease the stress while his son only appears as bland, more obstinate than really passionate about riding, let alone about his horse.The groom character created as a proxy for the horse-rider relationship is not really interesting. It shaves a narrative challenge off the main character's shoulders, only making him look vain and passive before others - the groom (Lou de Laage), his father, his wife (Marina Hands) - steer him in the right direction.In the end, the mere succession of key jumping events starts to be too much, all the more so as the father is no longer there. And maybe the movie lacks Daniel Auteuil to deliver the final word, because in the end there is no sense of a lesson learnt. The journey was emotionally charged but the minute after we arrived it's all gone.
Never heard of Jappeloup but watched the film because I love horses. Did not waste my time for everyone involved with the film was superb. Such a moving film and such a pleasure to experience the highs and lows and the ultimate success ofsuch a magnificent animal.Viva le France