Ride Above is a film about facing adversity and finding the courage to pick yourself up again which is in the Family category of the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program. Zoé was born in a stable while her parents’ horse also gave birth. Zoé named that horse Tempête (the French title for the film). She has always dreamed of being a jockey. All of those plans and dreams are thrown into disarray when a tragic accident in which she is trampled by a horse, sees her become a paraplegic and therefore unable to walk.
After the accident, Zoé blocks everyone out and can’t bear to see or be near the horses that she so loved before. Stable-hand Seb (Kacey Motten-Klein, Farewell to the Night, AFFFF 2020) patiently waits until she’s ready to dip her toes in the water again and becomes an unlikely accomplice.
In the background to Zoé’s struggles are her parents’ own financial struggles with an American investor having come in and spent a lot of money renovating the stables and the property. Philippe (Pio Marmaï, The Trouble with You, AFFFF 2019, and Felicità, BIFF 2020 ) tries desperately to get his horses to win in the various harness racing competitions (horse racing where the rider is in a two wheeled chariot-like cart riding with split legs) without success. The American investor threatens they will lose everything if they don’t turn things around and win soon.
It is the second film from Director Christian Duguay involving horses. The other, Jappeloup, screened at the AFFFF 2011. He also directed two other films that you may have seen at the AFFFFF in previous years: A Bag of Marbles and Belle & Sebastian, the Adventure Continues… That said, Duguay said when the producers of the film approached him with the idea, he was reluctant because he was worried about being pigeon-holed. Together with Lilou Fogli, Duguay wrote the script and adapted the story from the book Tempête au Haras by Christophe Donner.
The three actresses who played Zoé at various ages did so convincingly: June Benard (5 year old Zoé), Charlie Paulet (12 year old Zoé) and Carmen Kassovitz (17 year old Zoé). Special mention to Charlie Paulet, who played Zoé after her accident when she was struggling to accept her new life without being able to walk or ride. She convincingly portrayed the depressive mood and anger that Zoé was going through.
Mélanie Laurent plays Marie, Zoé’s mother. She is a strong character trying to hold everything together as the world seems to crumble around them. Pio Marmaï is also excellent in his role as the father and husband Philippe.
While Ride Above only has a run time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, it felt quite slow, particularly the first 40 minutes or so while they were setting the groundwork for their trials and tribulations with the horses and how integral horses were to Zoé’s childhood. In fact, most of that in succinctly summarised in the first 60 seconds of the trailer (which you can see at the end of this article).
Ride Above is a film that is meant to, and does, inspire but it is also quite predictable. We know that this is a film about Zoé getting the courage to overcome her new disability and to get back on the saddle but unfortunately it was quite formulaic.
Horse lovers will appreciate Ride Above perhaps most of all, and those looking for an easy feel-good film to watch.
Matilda Marseillaise watched the film via a screener.
To find out when Ride Above is showing in your city, click this link:
KEY INFO FOR AFFFF 2023
WHAT: Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 (AFFFF 2023) – the 34th edition of the largest celebration of French film outside of France!
WHERE & WHEN:
Sydney, NSW: 7th March to 5th April – Palace Central, Palace Verona, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
Melbourne, VIC: 8th March to 5th April – Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema
Perth, WA: 8th March to 5th April – Luna Leederville, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema, Palace Raine Square, Camelot Outdoor Cinema
Canberra, ACT: 9th March to 5th April – Palace Electric Cinema
Hobart, TAS: 9th to 19th March – State Cinema
Brisbane, QLD: 15th March to 12th April – Palace James Street, Palace Barracks
Byron Bay, NSW: 16th March to 5th April – Palace Byron Bay
Adelaide, SA: 23rd March to 19th April – Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Port Pirie, Renmark, Whyalla, Mount Gambier: 24th March to 26th March – Northern Festival, Chaffey Theatre, Middleback Arts Centre, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre
Gold Coast, QLD: 29th March to 16th April – Dendy Southport
Parramatta, NSW: 29th March to 2nd April – Riverside Theatre Parramatta
Victor Harbour, SA: 3rd and 10th April – Victa Cinema
Bendigo, VIC: 21st to 23rd April – Star Cinema
HOW: The full program of 39 films can be viewed at the official Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 website via this link: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary between cities and there are also discounted festival passes available if you want to see several films. (NB You will need to pick the films and sessions when purchasing the pass)
See below for more AFFFF content
Our picks from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 program
Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023 first 15 films announced
Country Cabaret: a fun farm film to see at AFFFF 2023
Final Cut: a comedic zombie film that’s even for people who don’t like horror or gore
Happy 50/Plancha is about a group vacation gone wrong
Paris Memories traces the difficulties of being a survivor of the Paris terrorist attacks
Sugar and Stars: an inspiring tale about the road to sweet success
Silver Rockers: a film inspired by the story of rocker retirees from Normandy
The Colours of Fire: an heiress seeks revenge
The Origin of Evil is a must-see film this AFFFF
Which films won at the César 2023 and where you can watch them