Published on June 15th, 2008 | by simeon0
An American racing legend comes to the screen in a moving portrayal of redemption in the new film “Seabiscuit” from writer director Gary Ross. Based on a true story and novel by Laura Hillenbrand, the film tells the story of Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), a bicycle maker who becomes a millionaire thanks to a chance meeting and his belief that cars are the future in the early 1900’s.
Years later following a personnel upheaval Howard is taken by his friends to Mexico to recover as gambling and alcohol have become illegal in Prohibition America. It is here that Howard meets three people who will have a dramatic effect on his life. There is his future wife Annie (Valerie Mahaffey), Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), a trainer with a heart of gold, and Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), a frisky jockey who was abandoned by his parents and who supplements his income by street brawling.
With the nation suffering under The Great Depression and Stock Market Crash, Howard casts his lot in horse racing and based upon the advice of Tom, he purchases a feisty yet undersized horse named Seabiscuit. The horse is from a good pedigree but his size, behavior, and lack of competitive instinct have made him unsuitable to race according to most in the business. Tom believes that given a chance, the horse can be a winner and sets about training Red and Seabiscuit for racing.
The horse bonds with Red and Tom and soon runs of a series of victories on the California racing scene gaining national attention in the process. Howard is a master of publicity and issues a series of challenges to the current Triple Crown winner War Admiral who is seen by many as the perfect and unbeatable horse. The challenge goes unanswered until the persistence of Howard pays off and the race of a lifetime is organized. While most films may use this race as the climax, it is used instead to set up a very emotional and inspirational final segment of the film. Bridges gives a fantastic performance that is Oscar worthy. I saw echoes of Bridges great work in the largely overlooked “Tucker: The Man and His Dream”, and he surpasses it in this film. Maguire is very strong and proves that he is able to hold his own against the best Hollywood can offer and is one of the best young talents in Hollywood.
I can easily see this film garnering several award nominations, as it is a very well crafted film that had people at my screener cheering. Easily one of the best films of the year and a serious Oscar contender, see this movie.
5 stars out of 5