The Cup

(PG) Roadshow DVD/BD

The Melbourne Cup is often referred to as “The Race that Stops the Nation” and this was probably never truer than in 2002 when Australian jockey Damien Oliver rode to first place on Irish horse Media Puzzle, only days after the tragic death of his brother, fellow jockey Jason.

This kind of story seems too good to be true and, if you didn’t know better, you would be forgiven for thinking it came from the cliché-ridden mind of a Hollywood writer.

The raw material certainly had the potential to become a real crowd-pleaser, but it’s a shame that The Cup takes so long to reach its emotional climax.

Director Simon Wincer (Free Willy, The Phantom) tries his best to create a fascinating mosaic of the horseracing world as well as an emotional drama but there is too much going on here and the film ultimately suffers from being overlong.

Another problem is that most of the characters depicted are persons still living and Wincer and co-writer Eric O’Keefe have obviously been careful not to offend anyone. Either that or, wow, everyone must have been so nice back then.

The performances vary from actor to actor and there are a lot of weak moments with an Aussie “soap opera” feel. Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) is a wonderful actor and the obvious standout as Irishman Dermot Weld, owner of champion racehorse Media Puzzle, and Stephen Curry (The Castle) gives a very capable performance as Damien and actually looks a lot like him.

Australian TV actors Daniel MacPherson, Jodi Gordon and Shaun Micallef all co-star.

Overall, The Cup is mildly fascinating, especially for those interested in Australian sports history but it feels too much like a made-for-television movie and perhaps would have been better off that way.

Jasmine Edwards

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