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Sorry, Sir Mark. We’re cheering this French equestrian and his amazing little black gelding.

Year: 2013
Country: France
Running time: 130 mins
Censor Rating: M - low level offensive language
Genres: Animals, Horses

Producers: Karima Benouadah, Pascal Judelewicz, Romain Le Grand
Screenplay: Guillaume Canet. Based on the novel Crin noir by Karine Devilder
Photography: Ronald Plante
Editor: Richard Marizy
Production designers: Gérard Drolon, Emile Ghigo
Costume designer: Caroline de Vivaise
Sound: Frédéric de Ravignan
Music: Clinton Shorter
In French with English subtitles

With: Guillaume Canet (Pierre Durand), Marina Hands (Nadia), Daniel Auteuil (Serge Durand), Lou de Laâge (Raphaëlle), Tchéky Karyo (Marcel Rozier), Jacques Higelin (Dalio), Marie Bunel (Arlette Durand), Joël Dupuch (Francis Lebail), Frédéric Epaud (Patrick Caron), Arnaud Henriet (Frédéric Cottier), Donald Sutherland (John Lester)

Jappeloup depicts the true story of French equestrian show jumper Pierre Durand and his horse, Jappeloup. This young horse was widely deemed by many to be too small, too stubborn and too impetuous to compete at world class events. Others were convinced that the problem lay with the rider. And yet this improbable duo of former lawyer Durand and young Jappeloup became one of the fiercest competitive jumping teams at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Jappeloup is one of those underdog tales of competitive sport guaranteed to reach an unbearable head of suspense in the final reel, but it does not take a familiar road to get there. Racing at disconcerting speed through the childhood and adolescence of Durand (Guillaume Canet, who also wrote the film), it hits a steady pace at the point where he abandons a promising law career to return to the family business. He claims he’s doing it to please his father (Daniel Auteuil), but we’re not so sure that’s the case. 

Maybe Durand needs to find himself before he can find his way as a competitive show jumper: this is a belated coming-of-age tale for the prickly young rider. Handsomely mounted and crafted with care, the film more than lives up to those final reel expectations. Be prepared to bite your knuckles. 

“Capturing the various training and tournament scenes in superbly framed widescreen [director] 

Christian Duguay shows a seasoned hand in depicting the rarefied art of professional show jumping, and Canet certainly impresses by pulling off many of the horse stunts on his own… Daniel Auteuil is most memorable as the jockey’s warm and understanding dad.” — Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter

Film Sponsored by KLM