Following in their father’s tragic footsteps, brothers Damien and Jason Oliver (Stephen Curry and Daniel MacPherson) are professional jockeys; racing horses for a living. Their father died when they were only children, trampled by his competitors after the horse he was riding buckled and collapsed beneath him. Now, adults Damien and Jason are set to compete in an enormous Australian horse racing competition, but during one of the heats, Jason succumbs to his family’s curse and is killed much in the same way his father was. Grieving the loss of his brother, Damien must pull himself together to quite literally get back on the horse and see this competition through to the end.
What drew me to The Cup was the presence of Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York, In Bruges). I can’t think of a single bad movie the Irish actor has been in, so I figured this was a pretty safe bet. In the film, Gleeson plays the owner of the two horses that Damien and Jason race with, and unfortunately it’s too small of a role to be anything spectacular. In fact, I can’t understand why Gleeson’s in this at all. It’s not his typical style of movie, and there aren’t any other big name stars in it. So, as talented as Gleeson generally is, there are a lot of issues with this film that drag even his performance down to mediocrity.
My huge problem with the film is how it’s structured. It’s based on real events, and they make sure you understand that right from the beginning, so it’s not at all surprising how Damien’s story arc is going to play out. So, all the time spent watching him grieve and debate whether or not to race anymore feels like stalling, and it gets very boring to sit through.
It’s possible that I have a hard time getting excited about the story here because I know nothing about horse racing. The film tries really hard to establish the importance of matching a particular jockey with a particular horse. They make it seem like there’s a lot of nuance to this dynamic, but they do nothing to convince me of it. I’m sure there’s a lot of focus that goes into horse racing, and thus Damien’s emotional state can make his failure more eminent and believable, but the whole time I can’t help but ask why they don’t let Damien take some time to himself, grieve over the loss of his brother, and find a different jockey. But, I guess they don’t make movies about people who sit around feeling sorry for themselves while other people attempt glory.
Special Features include a behind the scenes featurette, and English and Spanish subtitles.
Available on DVD from Lionsgate on October 16.