(director: Benjamin Marquet; cinematographers: Benjamin Marquet/Sébastien Buchmann/Laurent Chalet; editors: Isabelle Devinck/Emmanuelle Joly; music: Les Nature Boys; Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Daniel Marquet; Music Box Films; 2008-France-in French with English subtitles)

If you ever wondered how jockeys are trained, then this might be the film you were looking for.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

First-time French director Benjamin Marquet films a slight horse racing documentary, that finishes out of the money as it stumbles trying to make its story of aspiring jockeys compelling. It’s set in a small village near Paris, Chantilly, where 14-year-old boys and girls enroll in the elite equestrian boarding school and train to be future lads and jockeys. The filmmaker blends together color and black-and-white footage, as it veers between when this film was shot in 2006 and the showing of clips from Henri Raschle’s 1969 black-and-white film, “Les Grandes Écuries”. The story revolves around Steve, Florian and Flavien during their first year of apprenticeship. Their day always begins with stable mucking, a chore their teachers encourage them to love doing as a sign of respect to the horse they will ride, and then they have regular school classes. For work experience, they get assigned to work a known trainer’s stable. The film conveys the accomplished skill sets it takes for the small boys to master riding a thousand pound race horse. We learn that the punishing apprenticeship program eliminates most of the students from having a career in horse racing, as only a handful will qualify as professional jockeys.

If you ever wondered how jockeys are trained, then this might be the film you were looking for. I never cared, and after seeing the film still don’t care.

REVIEWED ON 12/13/2011 GRADE: C+