Concrete Cowboy – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Concrete Cowboy – Father, Son and Horses: An Urban Western

The oddities of this world can stir magic in the mundane.  From the fantastical to the dramatic, the strength of the journey becomes a matter of relative ties.  That bond, no matter what kind, can make everything that is atypical seem that much more fulfilling.  In this review, I look at a film that bridges the unorthodox within the familiar.  Concrete Cowboy might spin an obvious tale, but it wrangles you in upon the strength of … father and son.

Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), a young man with no direction, moves in with his father, Harp (Idris Elba).  Standing at a crossroads, a rekindle relationship might lead to a safer place in life.  From the onset, you realize the foundation is built through familiar archetypes/tropes to create a drama with real-life elements.  Cole is a young man that has made a lot of terrible decisions.  With no other option, his mother decides the best thing is for him to live with his father for the summer.  After a quick epilogue/expositional setup, we head into the first act.  Moving from Detroit to Philadelphia, it becomes the typical angst teenager against the estrange father.  This complicated relationship builds through a mix of predictable hijinks and down-to-earth characterization.  Cole is a person out of his element, especially when he interacts with the rest of the neighborhood.  He learns that his father is part of a group that is preserving the black cowboy lifestyle on Fletcher Street.  The intrigue of the unknown creates an opening that leads to a clash of cultures.  The unorthodox situation leads into a second act that builds upon a sense of fraternity.  The slow buildup of these bonds comes through authentic dialogue and the grounded aspect of the neighborhood.  Through a natural sense of tone, it moves through predictable waves with a genuine feel that is anchored through Cole and Harp.

As the story continues, Cole continues to struggle ‘finding his place’ in this world.  This conflict is caused because of additional subplots.  This drives the buildup of the main storyline, creating a derivative of the overall messaging (of the film).  The strength of the ‘father/son dynamic’ is pushed aside, creating a convoluted structure of unexplained circumstances an unwarranted character choice.  As the community becomes stringed into a plethora of downturns, it leads to a third act filled with predictable scenarios of melodramatic tension.  This creates a water down climax, leading to an epilogue that should have been more powerful.  Concrete Cowboy has a lot of strong moments but becomes a throwaway of potential.  If you are a fan of the actors or like real-life dramas, this is one for you.  It is available on Netflix but would be worth seeing at the theaters for the right price.

Full Score – 3 out of 5 (Theater Discount)

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