Kidpic "Winky's Horse" reps a delightful girl-meets-horse story, aimed at tiny tots. Despite its charms, this Holland-set Christmastime fable will have a rough ride finding offshore buyers, even if redubbed for export, given its intensely Dutch frame of reference. Nevertheless, pic has come whinnying home after its Netherlands-Belgium domestic release with very healthy screen averages, and should bank plenty of coin in its feedbag on ancillary.
Five-year-old Winky Wong (adorable natural Ebbie Tam) immigrates to the Netherlands with her mother (Han Yi) from China to rejoin her father (Aaron Wan), a restaurant-owner in a quiet Dutch burg. The stresses of learning a new language and fitting in at school are eased when Winky makes friends with an elderly pony owned by her neighbors (Jan Decleir and Betty Schuurman). When Saartje goes to the big pasture in the sky, Winky appeals to Santa Claus for a new horse, with cute results. Debutante helmer Mischa Kamp jerks tears well and gets socko perfs from her younger thesps. Emotionally restrained script gets sugared by Johan Hoogewijs' score, but not too much. Lensing by Lennert Hillege is a riot of warm golden hues.
Camera (color), Lennert Hillege; editor, Sander Vos; music, Johan Hoogewijs; production designers, Frederiek Delfos, Anita Kars; costume designer, Maartje Wevers. Reviewed on DVD, London, Feb. 25, 2005. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Kinderfilmfest.) Dutch, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.