Don Reviews "The Mustang"
Since I was born in Wyoming and in Montana, it is safe to say I know a few things about horses. As a child I was allergic to them and broke out in hives when around them too long. As I got older, the allergy got better to the point where I could even ride one! In that area of the country, there are also a number of wild horses that cannot be domesticated and end up being useful from farms to police agencies, with some of them being reared in prison programs, and this is where writer/director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s “The Mustang” takes place.
This film stars Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow) Roman (Schoenaerts), an inmate in the Nevada Department of Corrections who has a violent history and is being re-integrated into the general population after a time in solitary confinement. He ends up being assigned to work in a unit in tries to domesticate wild horses that are then later auctioned off to benefit the Land Management program with a horse that no one else really wants to deal with. The program is run by Myles (Bruce Dern), who believes in Roman but is hard on him at the same time to make him better while at the same time, Roman is dealing with his late teen and pregnant daughter Martha (Gideon Adlon).
This film takes place entirely at the remote prison facility, which seemed very realistic to the point where I got the feeling that even if an inmate were able to escape from the facility, there would nowhere to go but miles and miles of desert. Schoenaerts does well in the lead as a quiet man who still deals with anger management issues, and I really love the job he does showing the changes in him emotionally through working with the program. Veterans like Dern and Britton do very well in the supporting roles, but the less experienced Adlon also well as the emotional daughter who has gone through (and is still going through) a lot.
Now the story of Roman is fictional, but the programs are not as there are about seven states that actually have the horse domestication programs in their prison system. From that aspect, “The Mustang” truly shows the pros and cans of the program in a realistic and sometimes graphic way. At a little over ninety minutes long, it is the perfect length, and given its level of realism. I cannot mind very many faults, so I will definitely recommend this film as a twilight to full price showing in the theaters.