Year Released: 2019
Directed by: Laure de Cermont-Tonneurre ( and one of the writers as well)
Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern, Gideon Adion, Jason Mitchell
(R, 196 min.)
“If you want to control your horse, first you got to control yourself.” Henry, fellow prisoner and horse trainer
A film as spare and Spartan as the Nevada desert that hosts both the wild mustangs and the prison that houses its convict trainers. A brilliant character study that will haunt you long after you leave the theater.
Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts), a convict in a rural Nevada prison who struggles to escape his violent past, is required to participate in an "outdoor maintenance" program as part of his state-mandated social rehabilitation. Spotted by a no-nonsense veteran trainer (Bruce Dern) and helped by an outgoing fellow inmate and trick rider (Jason Mitchell), Roman is accepted into the selective wild horse training section of the program, where he finds his own humanity in gentling an especially unbreakable mustang.
Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays Roman Coleman, a veteran prisoner who doesn’t get along with people, is really the focus of this story. The wild and wonderful mustang Marcus, is just a reflection of Roman.
Both are fiercely independent loners, remnants of an earlier age when harsh and violent men and their courageous steeds were needed to settle the New World. Now they are both outsiders. Living anachronisms. The mustangs compete with ranchers’ cattle for the grazing rights, so some 30,000 of them live in holding pens waiting to be adopted. It is not too much of a leap to see those pens as confining to those wild creatures as the Nevada prison and solitary confinement is to Roman himself.
And both are self destructive, ignoring or lashing out at those trying to help them. Roman himself is almost mute when the prison psychologist (Connie Britton) tries to find the new transfer the right niche. In fact, isolation is not really punishment for the loner, but more an accepted solution:
Psychologist: You’ve been in isolation. What do you think about that?
Roman Coleman: I’m not good with people.
An outside job shoveling manure is the best they can manage, but Roman is soon intrigued with the penned horses he cleans up after.
Myles (a spectacular Bruce Dern), the hard-nosed head horse trainer employed by the prison, soon recruits him to the program, assigning Roman the worst of the hard cases, just like Roman himself.
Some lazy critics call the film predictable, but Different Drummer realizes all the greatest stories have been told. It is how they are retold that counts. The Mustang is not predictable; it is inevitable. And that inevitability is a marker of great literature and films as well.
Further distinguishing The Mustang is the fact that except for Dern, Schoenaerts, and Jason Mitchell, all the other prison riders are actual convicts. Talk about authentic! Take that, all you caped crusaders warming up in the bullpen for the new Avengers release this week.
Just like the prisoners who were one of the few audiences not to reject the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot– its Paris audience almost rioted at this early absurdist drama – these guys have an inner wisdom the elites do not. They are not easily gulled and they often see deeper truths than those on the outside.
The Mustang is a must see film. Don’t be discouraged if it is not in a theater near you yet; it first came out as a limited release. And you can always see it right now on Vudu.
So strap on your chaps, and saddle up, everyone. You won’t regret it.
Ok, so the inmates don’t get bar privileges, but that doesn’t stop them from dreaming about it.. And this Wild Mustang Cocktail has ingredients that sum up the The Mustang flawlessly.
Like Roman and Marcus, his assigned mustang, the rosemany is sharp and bittersweet, with robust flavor and depth. The grapefruit juice is both tart and sour. Fits both our boys, right?
But it is the Wild Tudkey American Honey Bourbon that shows their secret sides as Richard Thomas so aptly describes in “The Whiskey Reviewer.”
The nose is lovely and potent, combining lemon zest and honey, with a dash of butterscotch and cookie spice for good measure. The woody note, modest as it is, is more cedar than oak. Nosing this stuff really is like pulling the lid off and nosing a big scented candle, it’s that fragrant.
The flavor brings more of that citrus and honey cookie profile to the plate, with a mouthfeel that is rich and buttery. It’s not sophisticated, but it is supremely yummy. –Richard Thomas
Now don’t you want to pour yourself this little cocktail right now?
“It’s five o’clock somewhere. “
Wild Mustang Cocktail
· 3 oz. Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon
· 6 oz. Grapefruit Juice
· 2 dashes Bitters
· 1 sprig Rosemary
Combine American Honey, grapefruit juice and bitters in a tumbler with ice and stir. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.