Benjamin Marquet helmed this so-so documentary about a group of 14-year-olds who are being educated in a boarding school with a distinctive mission: if they graduate, they have a chance to enjoy a career as a jockey in the French horse racing industry.
To its credit, the film is handsomely shot – Marquet joins cinematographer Sebastien Buchmann and Laurent Chalet in capturing the beauty of the horses and the physical challenges of the young people in the saddle. The scenes featuring French steeplechase races are thrilling to behold, as equine and human athletes work together to navigate rough obstacles.
But, sadly, the film seems to stop once the racing is over. The students are not particularly interesting and most of their education (especially when it comes to washing horses and cleaning stables) does not make for compelling nonfiction filmmaking. Too much of the film appears to have been staged for the cameras – especially some overlong unbroken tracking shots where the horses keep galloping down forest paths. Marquet also creates weird distractions by intercutting scenes from a 1960s racing documentary (complete with a surprise appearance from cult favorite Eddie Constantine) and inserting incongruous jazz riffs on the soundtrack.
Horse racing addicts may enjoy the behind-the-scenes view of their favorite sport, but most viewers will probably be bored and confused.