Jappeloup is a beautifully shot film ostensibly about the titular horse, who with Pierre Durand aboard, won gold for France at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in the show - jumping event. Directed by Christian Duguay and co-scripted by lead, Guillaume Canet (himself surprisingly, a very experienced junior equestrian), playing Durand, it's really one of those films probably best appreciated by horsey people. It charts the extremely episodic rise of the pair, including a near disastrous stint at the 1984 Los Angles Olympics, before the grand finale at Seoul.
Unfortunately Jappeloup is mostly uninterested in the horse that it's titled after. It never goes any way to offering an explanation as to why Jappeloup himself, is recognised as a national hero in France, or even regarded internationally as one of the very great show-jumping equines. There's a post credits cursory reference to the fact that Jappeloup's competition retirement ceremony was held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But viewers of this extremely long biopic, are completely left in the dark, as to what really made the horse special, apart from a singular reference that he was small, but jumped well.
Instead we get a way too-detailed, decade long look at the life of Durand and his family members, with an overly special emphasis (Why, I have no idea.) placed on his father Serge, played very agreeably by Daniel Auteuil. Trials and tribulations are met and slowly overcome. Births, deaths, marriages and uneasiness about chosen vocations are slowly explored, before a sudden dramatic near disaster involving a fiery float near a busy freeway, leads us to an emotional, but ironically almost too brisk climax.
Boasting exceedingly strong production values, a strong cast and convincing locations, Jappeloup nevertheless, as a story, drags its reins. At 130 minutes long, it is filled with too many unnecessary situation human dramas and barely scratches the surface of its supposedly featured subject. It is unable to muster much excitement, or even make a good case for the horse's significance. Superficially to this layman, it appears to stick relatively closely to the key facts. But the fact that the real life Pierre Durand sued the film's producers, doesn't add much lustre to this much too, run of the mill story.