The beginning of War Horse consists of sweeping vistas of the English countryside accompanied by uplifting music to underscore “we shall overcome” moments designed to make the audience cry as Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) bonds with his horse, Joey while training him.

Albert’s father, Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) a stubborn drunk sets out to buy a workhorse to plow the fields but instead ends up overbidding for a beautiful yet impractical thoroughbred he can’t afford. Emily Watson is the matriarch, Rose who doesn’t approve of her husband’s actions but remains loyal to him. Ted’s irresponsible impulse leaves the family on the verge of losing their home and livelihood. Up to this point, the film is beautifully shot, well acted and entirely predictable.

It isn’t until World War I erupts that the story takes off and starts feeling more real and less manipulative. Ted sells the horse to the cavalry and the rest of the story follows Joey and the numerous people who come in contact with him throughout the war. The film comes to life as Joey affects individuals from disparate backgrounds and both sides of the conflict to lend a human face to war. Joey’s encounters illustrate what we already know; war is brutal, random and leaves no one untouched. Continue reading »

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