Off the pace
The Cup ( PG) ★ ★
Director: Simon Wincer ( Phar Lap) Starring: Stephen Curry, Brendan Gleeson, Shaun Micallef, Daniel Macpherson Chequered run, misses the placings WILL the Australian horse-racing drama The Cup be remembered as the film that stopped a nation?
I wouldn’t bet on it. No matter how juicy the odds on offer.
Based on the moving true story of how champion jockey Damien Oliver won the 2002 Melbourne Cup, The Cup seems to have potential staying power.
Oliver famously piloted the Irish thoroughbred Media Puzzle to victory less than a week after his older brother Jason died tragically in a track mishap.
Unfortunately, The Cup jumps sluggishly from the barriers and finds itself immediately caught up in a ruck of soppy, simplistic sports-movie cliches.
By the time the film gets a clear run and unleashes an impressive finishing burst – The Cup ends with a touching re-enactment of Oliver’s salute to the heavens after passing the Flemington winning post – the race to win over viewers has already been lost.
An engaging cast, led by Stephen Curry as Oliver, and Brendan Gleeson as Media Puzzle’s cunning Irish trainer Dermot Weld, do their best to help the film pick up the pace.
Best known for their work on the small screen, Daniel MacPherson ( playing Jason Oliver) and Shaun Micallef ( as Damien’s key mentor, trainer Lee Freedman) acquit themselves creditably.
Fans of the late, great Bill Hunter will also appreciate the acting icon’s screen swansong in a small role as the Cup’s king, Bart Cummings.
Longtime devotees of Australian thoroughbred horses will not be disappointed by the plentiful supply of authentic racing sequences, which most will agree is the most impressive aspect of the film.
However, The Cup remains weighed down by a script heavy with corny, over-explanatory dialogue and some unsuccessful attempts to lighten the mood with a little comedy.
The Cup has certainly been released at the right time to cash in on Spring Racing Carnival fever. But not all paying punters will be pleased with the final dividend. Now showing Village Cinemas