We say, an owl, westerly, a little air. Not. And maybe even better, it’s a lot more original than copycats with the near-western motif in the past that one sees from time to time on screens like very old copies. Concrete Cowboy tells a true story, a crazy story, a difficult and contemporary story, in the Black Quarter of Philadelphia. On discovering the first images of this incredibly beautiful fantasy, we thought that Fletcher Street and its black riders jogging or running between two roads and two city buildings in urban areas of today’s deprived suburbs reminds us of something. Mais oui, tout est vrai: en 2018, l’artiste contemporain Mohamed Bourouissa avait réalisé un documentaire sur ces cavaliers de Fletcher Street, ces outsiders magnifiques et leurs parades westerns parmi les taudis de Philadelphie, présenté au Musée d’art moderne de la Ville from Paris.
All this to say about the thickness of this novel and its three main characters: Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), a teenage Jean guilty on the way to the elder, expelled from all high schools, which his exhausted mother sends for the summer to his father’s home. Runaway (Idris Elba, still has great nobility in the game’s economy), who lives with Chuck … grumble! “Do you have a horse in the house?” “When he found this father, he was a wise and silent ex-convict, he barely knew him and wanted to flee immediately,” says Cole. That’s because Chuck lives quietly in the living room …
The thoroughbred knights of Fletcher Street in Philadelphia
There is a scenario in a very real place, drawn by a number of secondary characters who we will discover that they are real knights in the neighborhood in life. Like that old man who still remembers the days when stallions replaced trucks in Philadelphia. Black riding tradition, to lead these teams. Some have saved the few stables that miraculously survived everything, despite the real estate trolls’ appetites for office buildings.
These are the two stories that Concrete Cowboy tells: the son’s sacrifice is permanently threatened by the association of his cousin who definitively chose the camp of outlaws and the father, but also anger to live in a wild land that may be outlaw, but is a vibrant humanity, which it does not have Only a few purebred horses, surrounded by police and veterinary services. You have to take the time to enter this movie, to understand the grace and urgency. In Philadelphia we finish well horses, we finish marginalized as well. But the resistance is first the enemy. And discover everything that animal life can bring us. Transmission and respect for the past also, the horse gave a lot to humans before the appearance of train and other tractors. In “Concrete Cowboy” there is a close-up of the horse’s eye that Cole has taken so long to tame, head on, and who alone deserves a glimpse of Fletcher Street, this basic anomaly.
Editor’s rating: 4/5
Concrete CowboyDrama by Ricky Staub (US, 2021), with Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, One Hour and 47, available on Netflix.