Sunday, August 28, 2011

Of Women and Horses (Sport de filles)

A Le Pacte release of a Lazennec & Associes, Maia Cinema, Vandertastic production. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Gregoire Debailly, Gilles Sandoz. Co-producer, Hanneke van der Tas. Directed by Patricia Mazuy. Screenplay, Simon Reggiani, Mazuy, Patrick Le Rolland.With: Marina Hands, Bruno Ganz, Josiane Balasko, Amanda Harlech, Isabel Karajan, Muftie, Lionel Dray, Olivier Perrier. (French, English, German dialogue)Even those fascinated by dressage will wonder what Patricia Mazuy, her producers and cast thought they were making with "Of Women and Horses." Meant to be the tale of a headstrong woman and a jaded trainer engaged in a battle of wills that will lead to triumph, the clunky results are hobbled by bad dialogue, sloppy editing and poor use of music. No one appears to be holding the reins, though Mazuy ("The King's Daughters") is no stranger to filmmaking. "Horses" will likely be put to pasture following a projected mid-December opening. Working-class Gracieuse (Marina Hands, her face frozen in a look of sullen intensity) is ignored by snobbish elite horse trainers, though her promising talent begs for discovery. She's keen to work with world-famous trainer Franz (Bruno Ganz), but he's under the thumb of supercilious partner Josephine (Josiane Balasko). How Gracieuse succeeds and Franz overcomes his torpor is meant to energize viewers, but the lack of visual acumen and lifeless storytelling stymie involvement. Socialite Amanda Harlech's thesping debut, as Franz's client, is inauspicious, though none of the actors escape the banal characterizations.Camera (color), Caroline Champetier; editor, Mathilde Muyard; music, John Cale; production designer, Eric Barboza; costume designer, Nathalie Raoul. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande), Aug. 10, 2011. Running time: 101 MIN. Contact the Variety newsroom at

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