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Triumphs of the human spirit constitute perhaps cinema's most enduring story material, and this French film shot in Nevada brings a powerful existentialist message to the viewer without the preachiness one might expect of an American movie on the subject.
Matthias Schoenaerts, his shaven head and rock-solid physique suggesting a Vin Diesel, is magnificent in the lead role, a convict without hope or direction paralleled with the title wild horse he's tasked to train for sale to police departments or ranchers in a prison program run by craggy old Bruce Dern. Connie Britton makes the most of her two scenes as a prison psychologist working on rehabilitation.
Most of the cast is non-pro, actual prisoners from such a program giving solid performances for debuting feature director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Echoes of "The Myth of Sysiphus" and other existential writings underpin the action, but Laure carefully makes it a visual cinematic experience, not one of those 1950s Playhouse 90 classics from TV's Golden Age. Free of sentimentalism, it also keeps the melodramatic subplot involving chicanery and violence in prison to an absolute minimum, and is a wholly satisfying movie with universal appeal.
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