A movie about urban cowboys is not something that I would gravitated toward, but going in I knew that the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is a real thing. I also thought about how a lot of how old west cowboys of color were just erased from history so I was quite intrigued by this film and Philadelphia’s African-American horseriding culture it depicted.
Idris Elba starring and producing it, did help acting wise because beside him, Lorraine Toussaint (Your Honor, The Glorias, Selma, OITNB) is the only other actor that I knew. I’ve never seen Caleb McLaughlin in Stranger Thing, I didn’t recognize Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight, When They See Us, Mr. Mercedes), and never heard of the director, Ricky Staub, before this. I like some of Method Man‘s music but he’s not a draw for me. But Ghetto Cowboy, the novel by G. Neri that inspired this film, was in my recommended on Goodreads.
Premise: Cole, a rebellious teen from Detroit is sent to live with his estranged father in Philadelphia for the summer. Once there he discovers the world of urban horseback riding and finds kinship in this tight-knit community of black cowboys.
Review: This movie feels like a mash-up of a lot of things. To me it feel as much like a movie as it does a documentary. It also combines a bunch of different worlds that we don’t often see together. These mash-ups are also the reason why it kind of, I mean just a bit, feels like it’s two projects, a movie and a documentary, that were edited into one, with McLaughlin as the glue.
This might sound like a dud but because the acting is strong, it works. It showcases quite a few talents that smooth out the clumsiness of the screenplay and the directing of a first feature film. They’ve gathered a cast of talented actors who gave fantastic performances, some of who I was shocked to find out it was their first feature. The movie is entertaining but also a life lesson, there are a lot of lessons to be taken from it, as well as the social commentaries that are made.
Concrete Cowboy is an inspiring film about personal growth with a bit of real world history thrown in.
Concrete Cowboy is available on Netflix, since April 2, 2021
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