If it is not always exciting, the incredible story of the Horse factor will not fail to upset. Beauty and misfortune follow one another to a particularly moving conclusion, the effects of which prove to be far too strong.
There are more selling titles than The Incredible Story of the Horse Factor. There are also more interesting subjects than this film, about a man who spent 33 years of his life building a palace. All with his own hands, having achieved this prodigious feat more than a century ago. But against all expectations, it is a feature film that does good to the soul.
What quickly attracts attention in this true story is the devotion of his hero, the village’s laughingstock, who spends his days delivering mail and his nights erecting an impressive structure. What could possibly animate it? The question is legitimate and the mystery remains. The protagonist, described as a madman, is endowed with a dazzling freedom of action, making a mockery of the norms in progress, going to the end of his dream by the detour of an immeasurable project that will allow him to become part of the society.
A sure source of inspiration and a strong lesson of courage, which is in the image of the intense game of Jacques Gamblin. This great actor leaves nothing to chance, being ready to all the sacrifices to offer the most accurate interpretation possible (he even went to sleep in the real palace located in the Drôme). Here he is surrendering body and soul in order to restore the memory of this rough and sometimes frozen being, who is anything but kind. If ever there was an English-speaking remake, we would see Christian Bale in his role.
At her side illumines Laetitia Casta, who has always been capable of the best (at Raoul Ruiz, for example) as well as the worst (all these dubious productions where she was hired only for her beauty). Here she is surprisingly credible as a peasant, forming a tender though not always credible duo with her male star, especially when the years get crazy and the age gap is felt. At least there is a certain intelligence of the heart that emanates from this character who is only love and who represents those generations of grandmothers who kept the house in tune with the seasons.
Nature plays a major role in this extraordinary adventure. The use of light is mind-boggling, evolving as the story unfolds. The slow pace allows us to better grasp this passing time, this raw material that animates creation. The direction of Nils Tavernier, however, remains a little too smooth and academic, a thousand leagues from those of his famous father Bertrand and his extraordinary historical frescoes (such as Un dimanche à la campagne and Que la fête commence). Then there are all these metaphors, primary and invasive.
If it is not always exciting, the incredible story of the Horse factor will not fail to upset. Beauty and misfortune follow one another to a particularly moving conclusion, the effects of which prove to be far too strong. The film claims a simplicity that suits it like a glove, perfectly representing its narrow and free hero.