One does not need to have an interest in horses or show jumping to enjoy Jappeloup, a film about an aspiring show jumper and his underdog horse, Jappeloup. The film explores the story of a trained horse and its rider representing his country, Team France, in the World Championship.
Guillaume Canet stars as Pierre Durand, a promising law student divided between law and his interest in show jumping, especially since his parents spent most of their lives providing him with a good foundation in show jumping. This dilemma is further deepened when concerns of financial stability set in, and he is split between caring for his family and pursuing his passion.
After several setbacks, he finally finds himself on a promising but stubborn young horse that surpasses expectations time and again. This time, Pierre is determined to make his country proud. Supporting him is his wife Nadia (Marina Hands) and the horse’s assistant Raphaëlle Dalio (Lou de Laâge), two women who provide much-needed reality checks whenever necessary.
Duguay provides ample development for the core characters in the story, with Pierre’s horse assistant Raphaëlle in particular. Though a supporting role, Raphaëlle is an important pillar of support for Pierre, and Lou de Laâge’s performance makes for a memorable character.
Canadian director Christian Duguay ropes you in slowly over the course of the film. With consistent pacing throughout, you’ll find yourself feeling for Pierre and his ultimate desire to be world champion. It also makes you sympathetic for Pierre, his horse and his family, as they sacrifice much of their time so that he can achieve his goals.
However, Jappeloup does not provide many details of the technicalities in show jumping, nor is there much info on the Grand Prix that Pierre is involved in.
Similar to 2011’s War Horse, Jappeloup digs further and explores the relationship, possibly even a bromance, between a horse and its rider. Without an emotional connection with the horse, physical touch and flair for the sport are not enough to succeed in show jumping. Though the sport is primarily from England, show jumping has some history in France. It is fitting, therefore, to have a dramatisation shown here in modern French cinema.
Jappeloup is screened as part of the 4th Rendezvous with French Cinema on 6 December at The Cathay and 7 December at Alliance Françoise.
Directed by: Christian Duguay
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Running time: 130 minutes
French with English subtitles