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Saturday, February 23, 2013

JAPPELOUP

By D.E.Levine

A Rendez-Vous With French Cinema 2013 Selection

It's human nature that people like to root for the underdog in which case this film is the perfect vehicle to fulfill that need.

This is the real life sports story of Jappeloup, a horse that not only was an underdog without proper blood lines, but was also smaller than other competition jumpers..

Written and starred in by Guillaume Canet, the film follows equestrian Pierre Durand and his favorite horse, Jappeloup from their start on a small family farm in Saint-Savin through lots of disappointments and obstacles to an Olympic gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

It's really a feel good film.  As he grows up Pierre decides to abandon equestrian competition to study and practice law.  After several years when he meets and marries an accomplished horsewoman, Nadia (Marina Hands), fathers a child and finds it impossible to stay away from his favorite sport, Pierre is faced with difficult decisions, lack of funds and the inability to get along with the French national team's coach.

Directed by Christian Duguay, the film has exciting training and tournament scenes done in wide-screen and accurately re-enacted from the real events (many of which can be seen on You Tube or archival news film).  This real story is filled with excitement as Pierre Durand goes through ups and downs, including an embarrassing fall at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the difficult road to a comeback before he could earn his gold medal.

The film is definitely enhanced by Canet, who looks amazingly like the real Pierre Durand he portrays, and as an accomplished horseman does many of his own jumping stunts. This is a film about a story that has a happy ending for Durand, Jappeloup and the French people.