When it comes to filmmaking in this era, it seems like everything has already been done, with a few exceptions each year. Those few exceptions stand out as the best films of each year and I think I may remember CONCRETE COWBOY as one of 2020’s best, if not my absolute favorite. Films these days always choose one genre and repeat similar narratives, so it’s always nice to see a nice blend of genres. This film felt so relevant as a family drama on the streets of Philadelphia, but also had a western touch to it, which made it feel authentic and original. It’s based on real people and stories, so that definitely helped, but I was moved by it. Recently having premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, here’s why I loved CONCRETE COWBOY.
After needing a life lesson, Cole is taken from Detroit to Philadelphia by his mother, where he’s dropped off at his father’s house. Reacquainting himself with an old friend who is nothing but trouble for him, he begins to also learn that his dad is only trying to see his son in the best light possible. Bouncing back from street life to working in a stable and caring for horses, Cole begins to learn the true meaning of a life well earned. Through struggles and loss, this film took me on a journey that I wasn’t exactly expecting. The emotional backbone to this film shines through in spades throughout the final 20–30 minutes and I just felt like applauding these performers.
Many viewers have come to know young Caleb McLaughlin as one of the leads from STRANGER THINGS, but this film proved to me that he is an incredible young talent who’s absolutely going places beyond that series. On top of that, Idris Elba as his father also gives a very emotionally-resonant performance, but everyone should also expect him to be great in everything at this point. This film had a fantastic screenplay by Ricky Staub and Dan Walser and the cast only took it and made it that much better. Everyone involved with this film was clearly committed and it shows as a final product.
CONCRETE COWBOY is a film that’s all about lessons. It dives into the harsh realities of living in a rundown neighborhood but also gives a positive look at what can be accomplished. This film hit me hard in the fact that I hadn’t even known about the fact that horses are big and celebrated in Philadelphia, but also in the way that it explored the family aspect. Sometimes there’s nothing but hard times that come to a family and this movie is all about overcoming things like that and moving on. I feel that this film will move many audiences who watch it.
In the end, CONCRETE COWBOY may seem a little slow to some viewers, but that has to be my only complaint here. It was incredibly honest from beginning to end and I loved every second of it. When this film hits theatres or streaming whenever that may be, I highly recommend checking it out. In a year where not many movies have stood out, this one absolutely did for me. CONCRETE COWBOY is a calm, emotional journey worth taking.