I personally feel like while I was growing up, from 2008-2012, there were so many horse movies about a girl either trying to keep the family farm or someone who wanted nothing to do with the horse becomes the only person the horse trusts. They were all the same and I was glad they weren’t being made anymore, or at least weren’t on my radar anymore.
This film seems like one of those movies, but becomes something greater that I’m glad to have watched. Netflix released the film “Concrete Cowboy” April 2 and it stars Caleb McLaughlin and Idris Elba in a very compelling story.
The film follows Cole, played by McLaughlin, who is forced to live with his dad during the summer due to his actions. His father was played by Idris Elba, who lives in Philadelphia and is a cowboy who doesn’t know how to connect to his estranged son. This is a coming of age film that truly is an unexpected gem.
The film is based on young adult novel “Ghetto Cowboy,” which drew from The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club organization and the overall Black horse-riding culture in Philadelphia.
At the end of the film we find out that several of the actors were actually a part of The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club.
They did amazingly in their roles; I had no clue they weren’t professional actors, and some, I hope, continue acting.
McLaughlin, who is known for his role as Lucas Sinclair in the Netflix original show “Stranger Things,” shines in this role. I predict he could become a household name, like his co-star Elba. He gave this role his all and showed great acting range that he hadn’t had the opportunity to show in “Stranger Things”.
It would not be a stretch to say he outshined Elba in this film.
The film delivers its message and feelgood ending, but it could have given us more. As an audience, we know what the film is trying to portray, but it isn’t exactly portraying it. It would have helped if we got to explore more of the relationship between Cole and his father, and also show us more of a connection and the building of trust between Cole and his horse.
The film explores, or practically bashes, the whitewashing of Western movies and cowboy lifestyle that Hollywood has portrayed in the past. The film helps show that the Black community is more diverse in its culture than Hollywood has portrayed.
Even though the film falls flat in some areas and can be a little predictable, it’s a great coming of age story and a great new take on a modern Western movie.
At first it may feel like a casual watch, but will quickly leave an impression on you.