When his daughter goes missing from their prairie town east of France, Alain and his young son, Kid, head out to find her. The journey takes the men to some far-off and unsettling places in ... Read allWhen his daughter goes missing from their prairie town east of France, Alain and his young son, Kid, head out to find her. The journey takes the men to some far-off and unsettling places in what begins to feel like an endless quest.When his daughter goes missing from their prairie town east of France, Alain and his young son, Kid, head out to find her. The journey takes the men to some far-off and unsettling places in what begins to feel like an endless quest.
Where the Ford parallel is most obvious, is with both films' focus on the obsessiveness of their central characters' search for family members over long periods of time. Ford's Ethan Edwards looks for his kidnapped niece, while Bidegain's father and son combo, search for 16 year old daughter Kelly, who has enigmatically disappeared after attending a French cowboy fair with her family. Nicole and the police appear generally happy that nothing untoward has occurred. But father Alain and vicariously (apparently) brother Kid, just can't let it go, even after the arrival of a brief letter from Kelly stating she is OK and wants to start an independent new life.
Les Cowboys is a film with more red herrings on show, than tinned fish cans on a supermarket's shelves. Twists turns and dead ends appear in the narrative which rather than build suspense and tension are frustratingly seemingly included to propel the plot along in myriad directions without any substantial pay - off. Alain's countless visits to various dubious intermediaries, including one to a gypsy camp where he behaves appallingly with unsurprising results. A Ministry representative's visit to the Ballard home, where little is spoken by any party. Kid's dalliance with a girlfriend in Afghanistan from whom he just walks away and then his odd meeting and throwing in with a shady American operator played by John C. Reilly, which almost seems as if it should be part of another movie.
Les Cowboys is not a total write - off. The acting is by and large quite good, though Finnegan Oldfield delivers a strangely, one note performance, as the adult Kid/Georges. This is probably under direction, but we end up none the wiser why after so many years he is still pursuing a sibling, who doesn't wish to be found, nor why his father Alain, dragged him around on some of their earlier escapades. Worthy of notice is the second half appearance of Ellora Torchia as Shazhana, who succeeds in creating the most interesting and sympathetic character in the story. The final scenes in Belgium are also quite well - handled, compared to much of the earlier storyline. Think Zodiac, without the air of menace.
Not so much as The Searchers, Les Cowboys attempts to deliver an epic family love story spanning a couple of continents and decades. But this is one long, uneven, plodding journey with characters who are undeveloped and who we are just not drawn too. Ultimately, if we are honest, one just has to ask the question, as to why didn't any one listen to the mother, who was obviously dialled in from the start. She definitely knew best.
- Apr 6, 2021