This version slow-burns with an old-fashioned sense of injustice. The story is told from Black Beauty's point of view (voice, Alan Cumming), and it's a Dickensian catalogue of conscience-pricking social and class conditions. Directing her first feature, screenwriter Caroline Thompson adopts a level-headed tone, avoiding the twin traps of sentimentality and sermonising. The film is shot with a good eye for scenery and composition, and Thompson shows total commitment to the story. But what can a horse do to engage the emotions? On the whole, it's just an undramatic working life, enlivened somewhat by David Thewlis' performance as a cabman, the most fully realised character among a gallery of quick-sketch ciphers.