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man and horse figure it out
ferguson-621 March 2019
Greetings again from the darkness. A herd of wild horses frolic and gallop and relax in the prairies that separate majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Suddenly the peace being enjoyed by the horses is interrupted by the deafening noise of a helicopter above. The purpose of the helicopter is to push the herd towards the corral and trucks that are part of the round-up. An opening title card informs us that more than 100,000 wild horses roam the U.S. countryside and the government is only able to manage a small percentage. Part of that process involves therapy for prisoners ... an obvious analogy being the two wild beings try to tame each other. When the prisoners have trained the horses, an auction is held, and many of the animals will be used in law enforcement - an irony not dwelled upon here.

Roman Coleman is a guilt-riddled man. A man of short fuse and violent ways. He readily admits to the prison psychologist (Connie Britton) that "I'm not good with people." After 12 years in isolation, he's been transferred to general population and he seems pretty indifferent about it. His guilt is the type that only a split-second violent outburst can saddle one with - though we don't hear the specifics until late in the film. The psychologist assigns him to "outdoor maintenance" which is a fancy institutional term for, well, shoveling horse manure.

As he observes the rehabilitation program, where the convicts train the wild mustangs under the tutelage of crusty old horse trainer Myles (Bruce Dern), Roman is drawn to the wildest of the wild ... a mustang kept in a dark stall and labeled untrainable. The parallels to Roman himself are obvious, and soon head trainer Myles and fellow convict Henry (Jason Mitchell, MUDBOUND) have invited Roman into the program. It's here where man and horse prove how similar their temperaments are - they both react with anger to most any situation. After a particularly cruel and unfortunate outburst, Roman is back to solitary confinement and studying up on horses.

Writer-director Laure de Claremont-Tonnerre co-wrote the story with Mona Fastvold and Brock Norman Brock (BRONSON). It's the director's first feature film and she shows a real knack for pacing ... letting the uncomfortable scenes between man and horse breathe and play out. Speaking of uncomfortable, when Roman's pregnant daughter Martha (rising star Gideon Adlon, BLOCKERS) shows up to get his signature on a form so that she can run off with her boyfriend, the history and lack of commonality between the two is palpable. Their scenes together are excruciating. Sure this is a cliché-filled concept, but the director and especially the cast keep us glued to the screen and caring about what happens.

Matthias Schoenaerts stars as Roman, and it's yet another stellar performance from the actor who exploded onto the movie screen with BULLHEAD (2011) and RUST AND BONE (2012). Since then, it's been one terrific turn after another. His physical presence and soulful eyes convey so much. He has mastered the strong silent type, but here he expertly uses body language to communicate with both the horse and the audience. The drug-dealing sub-plot appears to have been included to remind us just how dangerous a prison yard can be, but we never lose sight of the pain involved with second chances and learning to be a better person. There are some similarities to two excellent 2018 movies, LEAN ON PETE and THE RIDER, but this first time filmmaker wisely lets her talented cast do their thing, as she complements their work through cinematographer Ruben Impens' (BEAUTIFUL BOY) fabulous work up close and with expansive vistas. Robert Redford was an Executive Producer on the film, so the beauty of the area is not surprising. The film allows emotions to play out right through the final shot.
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An outstanding existentialist drama
lor_9 March 2019
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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luciacarr1 February 2019
Such an amazing and beautiful story, Matthias was phenomenal!!!
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"I'm not good with people" - Matthias Schoenaerts shines!
paul-allaer6 April 2019
"The Mustang" (2019 co-production from the US, France, and Belgium; 96 min.) brings the story of Roman. At the movie's beginning, we are informed that over 100,000 wild mustangs roam in the US, from which several hundreds are taken to prisons each year for training by inmates. The opening scenes bring us one of those round-ups, as a chopper is directing a herd of mustangs towards captivity. We are introduced to Roman, locked up (for what crime?) in a maximum security prison in Nevada. "I'm not good with people", he tells the reclassification officer, so she puts him in the outdoor maintenance program. Initially it's just cleaning up horse manure, but eventually he gets to work with one of the mustangs. In a parallel story, Roman is visited by his highly pregnant daughter, and their meeting is - strained... At this point we're 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the feature length directing debut of Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (better known for her acting career in France), and what a debut it is! She also co-wrote the script. She brings a multi-faceted story: yes, there is the redemption side where a hardened criminal finds new hope when bonding with a mustang, but there is also the complicated father-daughter angle (which surprised me on several occasions as that played out), and of course there is the aspect of life in prison. Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts was made to play the role of Roman: a very physical yet nuanced performance (in the same way that it reminded me of Marlon Brando--but I'm not saying that Schoenaerts is in the league of Brando!). Bruce Dern has a small role as the heard of the mustang training program. The photography is eye-candy from start to finish. And then there are the mustangs, themselves a character in the movie. In the end, the biggest treasure that was uncovered in this film may well be Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. I can't wait to see what she will do next. (Please note that Robert Redford is credited as Executive Producer.)

"The Mustang" premiered to immediate acclaim at this year's Sundance film festival, It is not a coincidence that this movie is currently certified 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. "The Mustang" recently opened at my art-house movie theater here in Cincinnati. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (5 people to be exact, myself included). That is a shame. Maybe the movie will find a wider audience as it is released in different formats. If you are up for a top-quality movie with a dazzling performance from Matthias Schoenaerts, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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Interesting story, with terrific acting make this sleeper a must see
ccorral41927 March 2019
When Robert Redford attaches himself to a film as Executive Producer, other than last years "The Old Man & the Gun," one should pay attention. Toss in yet another fine gruff performance by Bruce Durn, an Award worthy lead performance by Matthias Schoenaerts ("The Danish Girl") as convict Roman Coleman, and an equistrian rehabilitation story line that hasn't been presented in this manner before, and you've got a film viewing experience with substance. Director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (2015 Aspen Shortfest Special Jury Winner for "Rabbit" and 2015 Sundance NHK Award winner for "The Mustang") introduces the viewing audience to wild mustang prison rehabilitation therapy program, via the the incarceration of Roman, who has shut himself off from his daughter (nicely presented by Gideon Adlon "The Society" TV) and life outside of his 12-years in prison. While the story leads the viewer down a somewhat predictable road, Roman's conflicted and reserved journey, along with his various contentious interaction with his horse (Marcus), is hard to look away from. Schoenaerts really steps outside the usual roles he is recognized for, and for this reason his performance places him securely into higher category of actors. One of my favs, Connie Britton ("Dirty John" TV), has a cameo here that's less than stellar, but it's alway great to see her work, and Jason Mitchell (Henry) and Josh Stewart (Dan) have arrived on the actor radar. The issue with "The Mustang" is that director/writer de Clermont-Tonnerre, and fellow writers Brock Norman Brock and Mona Fastvold, present several interesting side stories (drugs, murder, life in prison) along Roman's journey that are never flushed out. Regardless, "The Mustang" will be the sleeper film you'll want to experience.
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Great movie
sorrentinolouis3 April 2019
Must see movie if you love horses! It's sad to see how we are losing the American wild mustangs in the west. I feel mustangs should be protected because they played great role in the development of American history!
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Beautiful Film
jerryduck4710 April 2019
I woke earlier than usual this morning and with Daylight Savings Time hitting tomorrow decided to get up and acclimate a day early. Perusing the upcoming movie releases, I was thrilled to see that "The Mustang" is scheduled to hit the theaters this month. I don't know how wide a release it will be, but it's well worth tracking this beautiful film down

French actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre makes her feature film directorial debut here. There is little question that she will be given many more opportunities after this endeavor.

Fortunately she was at the Sundance opening for the film and we had the chance to hear how she brought this film to fruition. The story is based on an actual prison rehabilitation program whereby violent inmates are given the opportunity to break and train wild mustangs in an effort to ready them for auction. There are more than 100,000 mustangs in the wild and a portion are herded up each year to enter the program.

The film stars Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts. He is an established star in his country and has appeared in several Oscar nominated foreign language films, and he received a Cesar Award for Most Promising Actor for his performance in "Rust and Bone" In 2013.

Schoenaerts is the heart of this movie. He and the wild horse he is assigned to break. His violent past can be discerned just by looking at him. He is a deeply troubled man and wants nothing than to be left alone. "I'm not good with people" he bluntly states. Adding to the richness of the characters in the film is Bruce Dern who delightfully plays the crusty, irascible trainer to the inmates. It's good to see him deliver a solid performance at age 82.

The cinematography in the film is stunning. The mountains of Nevada enveloping this maximum security prison provide good material for the director. She puts it all to great use. Some of the scenes with Roman Coleman (Schoenaerts) and his horse are intimate and moving.

This was one of my favorites from this year's Sundance Festival and I am very pleased that it made it to the big screens. I hope it reaches many of them and that you get to see it. Enjoy.
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Predictable tale of inmate-horse bonding would have been better as a full-length documentary
Turfseer21 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Another Sundance import has come down the pike and as usual with such atmospheric projects, it must remain immune from any serious criticism from the film critic community. That's because The Mustang is one of those "well-meaning" missives on the subject of inmate rehabilitation. The inmate in question is Roman Coleman (played rather glumly by the Belgian actor, Matthias Schoenaerts) who will eventually find redemption by bonding with a wild Mustang named Marquis (pronounced "Marcus"), part of a horse training program sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management.

The film is set in a maximum security Nevada state prison where the idea is for a few of specially selected inmates to tame the horses so they can be put up for auction (with profits going to the aforementioned agency that runs the program). How can one not be enthusiastic about a film that raves about a program that reduces recidivism rates?

Despite some great cinematography and very able direction of her actors, first time French actor turned director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre simply has chosen a subject that doesn't lend itself to great drama. Part of the problem is the main character Roman; he's basically a one-note martinet who fits the bill of the generic angry inmate.

Clermont-Tonnerre attempts to flesh Coleman out with a rather predictable back story about how he ended up doing time (guilty of a domestic violence assault against his wife) along with a series of scenes in the visitor's room where his estranged daughter pays him a visit hoping he'll sign papers deeding her the family house.

The meat of the story-where Coleman must train Marquis-eventually grows tedious as the expected bonding between man and animal takes place right on schedule. Much more successful is Bruce Dern as Myles, the old codger who runs the training program. Myles proves to be much more lively than the perennially glum Coleman.

To fill up time, there is also a sub-plot involving Henry (Jason Mitchell), the inmate who teaches Coleman how to train Marquis. He falls victim to the obligatory scene of gang violence that takes place in the exercise yard.

Finally there's the very awkward ending which is designed to be both tragic and bittersweet. SUPER SPOILERS AHEAD. During the horse auction, Marquis is spooked by a helicopter passing by overhead and runs amok. Coleman is thrown to the ground and injured, leading to the closing of the horse training program (why dream that up when the whole idea is to promote the idea of the benefits of all that bonding?).

It's a setup for Myles to clue Coleman in that he can open the gates and allow Marquis to escape before he's put down. Despite the program's closing, Coleman will be "alright" in the knowledge that Marquis will roam free! All in all, I just didn't buy the ending where a program of such value is so easily eliminated.

The director here shows talent in terms of the technical aspects of film making. But the story simply devolves into almost one cliché after another. A better solution was to have done the film entirely as a documentary, eschewing the forced drama, leading to a more heady verisimilitude.
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Terrible representation
stephalinsley10 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a huge disappointment. As an advocate for Mustangs and someone who works with them for a living, this movie did no favors for Mustangs or the inmate programs. 1. Mustangs do not give you their trust after you've had an epiphany and feed them a carrot. 2. Inmate program facilities are not so half-assed as that so they would be pulling in wild animals indoors for a storm.. (this one was a big wtf.) 3. No such isolation boxes exist for horses. 4. Inmates would never have access to medical supplies like that, and the entire drug story line was totally unnecessary. 5. Please do not release Mustangs back into the wild. It is a danger to themselves and the herds they attempt to reintegrate to.

So so many things that made me so sad that this was the representation of Mustangs and inmate programs to the mass public.

Aside from all that, even assessing it as a Hollywood flick, the story lines were half baked and underdeveloped. By the end of the movie, he was not rehabilitated, nor was the horse, nor was his relationship with his daughter... so it totally contradicted the quote in the credits saying that wild horse inmate programs significantly reduce the chance of second offenses.

The story ends with the horse alone in the wild and the man stuck in solitary confinement.
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Simply not believable
anne201030 March 2019
People don't change that fast and horses don't act that way. The acting was good but the story is not at all realistic. Like Schoenaerts better when he doesn't try to be mean, violent, and ugly.
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Heartfelt, Hopeful Movie About a Man and His Horse
jmholmes-7372712 April 2019
Matthias Schoenaert's intense performance is the core of this strong character study about how a convict struggles to rehabilitate himself through learning how to tame a wild mustang on the prison grounds. As an actor, he is more than up to the challenge of commanding our attention for the entire film. One amazing sequence depicts the frightened horses being sheltered in the prison kitchen during a howling wind storm. The great Bruce Dern is showcased as the wise head trainer of the horses, and it is his best work since Nebraska some years back. This is the sort of movie teen viewers should be encouraged to see - a fine example of a family movie, if the family wants an alternative to the Marvel-Disney overblown vulgarities so widespread today.
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Good film about the human condition.
subxerogravity2 April 2019
It was interesting. The movie shows what we typically think of movies about people in prison, and somehow they added horses to the element.

For the most part the movie feels like a Made-for-TV movie used as propaganda to show how successful the this horse program is.

The program is about certain states of the U.S.A which seem to have a Wild mustang problem, and in order to deal with it, the federal state penitentiary lunched a program to have prisoners train these mustangs to be domestic enough to sell to people.

I thought Matthias Schoenaerts was good. I liked what he did with his character. very low key, but his attitude was perfect.

Also a fan of Jason Mitchell and Bruce Dern, who give good performances as well.

I enjoined it.
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The Mustang (2019) 7.7
bradeybonnell11 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The Mustang (2019) 7.7 Act 1 - 7.2 Act 2 - 7.7 Act 3 - 8.2


Realize you have to kill some to save some with animals but not humans

Prisoner and horse mirror each other Both angry and trapped Good score Good performances

Roman is so emotionally unavailable it's hard to connect with him and feel for his character at first

Great to see relationship and emotion grow between Roman and Marcus

Treats audience with respect and intelligence

Shows you instead of telling you

Roman opens up as his relationship with his horse grows

Goes into the prison system

Story weaves together smoothly

Schoenaerts is great

Great insight into prison sight and reform

Brutal and honest imagery

Shows power of bond between human and animal

Simple shots but worked for a simple story

Well constructed story that sets up nicely and the payoff is strong


Slow at times

Could have developed plot a little faster
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Two wild 'animals' come to terms
gortx27 March 2019
The symbolism couldn't be more plain: a wild horse and a violent prisoner thrown together by circumstance. Fortunately, French Director (and co-writer) Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is able to imbue the movie with enough nuance as to give it some grace. The criminal is Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) who has begrudgingly entered a prison rehab work program centered around a stable of horses run by a crusty rancher (Bruce Dern). The horse is the untamed title character (eventually named Marquis). Many of the story beats about Prison life are predictable including a sympathetic therapist (Connie Britton) and, of course, the child left to bring herself up (Gideon Adlon). There's also the requisite jailhouse bully (Josh Stewart) and the sympathetic inmate (Jason Mitchell). Some of the details are necessary to flush out the tale, but, too much of it is so on the nose as to broach being heavy-handed. Luckily, there are the scenes with just a man and his horse to compensate. It's here, where THE MUSTANG earns it's keep. The simple elemental engagement between man and beast where words are few, and physical interaction tells all. Bruno and Marquis get to the point where a tough truce is earned, even if their eye to eye contact belies the fact that neither will fully give in to the other. They are each untamed. Caged, and not yet free.
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Interesting story
Jolsson4511 May 2019
It is an interesting story and it was not a waste of time. However, i expected so much more from Robert Redford. In my image of him he is very familiar with horses and cares about the mustang. This picture shows little knowledge of horses especially training them. I am very disappointed in Redford and there is a dent in my admiration of him. He either doesn't know horses or he didn't care to be accurate.
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A story of redemption
tomfeller9 May 2019
Several state prison systems have programs in which prisoners learn to train horses and dogs as a kind of rehabilitation. They learn both skills for jobs after their release and empathy that helps them get along with people. This movie is set in a northern Nevada prison which has one of those programs in which prisoners train wild horses, which are auctioned off to various law enforcement units. The main character is Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts), who is in prisoner for beating his wife to the point where she was in a vegetative state. While shovelling horse manure, he is spotted by Myles (Bruce Dern), the civilian head horse trainer, and assigned to a horse who is not just wild but aggressive. With the help of another prisoner (Jason Mitchell), Coleman and the horse bond, of course, and Coleman names the horse "Marquis". Because of his experience with Marquis, Coleman also bonds with his daughter (Gideon Adlon) from whom he has been estranged. Schoenaerts is excellent as are all the supporting actors as well, including Connie Britton as the prison psychologist. The story itself, on the other hand, is rather predictable.
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nolacan5 May 2019
Matthias Schoenaerts gets my vote for his acting, as do the writers and entire crew for creating this masterful work. I gave it 9 Stars only because I wanted it to go on and on. I'll gladly pay to watch it again when it goes to home viewing.
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The Man Whisperer
Bachfeuer5 May 2019
I have little to add to the rave reviews THE MUSTANG has earned. Right after seeing it at the art house, I delved way down into on-demand. In a not dissimilar vein, I came up with OF WOMEN AND HORSES (Sport de Filles), with Bruno Ganz and Marina Hands. It deserves a stateside audience. Enjoy
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Entertaining movie, but many inaccuracies from the horse training point of view.
al-ragsdale420 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Overall I enjoyed the movie. In many modern movies, you must suspend your disbelief in order to fully enjoy the movie No exception here. I own a couple of horses and ride occasionally. Having had a broken pelvis in a riding accident several years ago, I'm perhaps a bit more aware of the potential for injury than the average citizen. I'd like to call out the dangerous training examples represented in the movie. One egregious example is the scene where the Mustang is first saddled. They should have shown at least a couple of weeks transpiring there, not a couple on hours as depicted. The movie paints somewhat ignorant and definitely dangerous training techniques, not utilized by most modern horse trainers.

Forget what you know about horses if you plan to enjoy the movie.
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Enjoyable afternoon movie
acel707219 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The Mustang was an enjoyable film, I gave it an 8. A harden criminal finds himself in a new prison, but he is uninterested in reforming himself. He comes in contact with the mustang training program, there he meets up with a untrainable mustang, a crusty ole horse trainer, and various prisoners. His relationship with his daughter and the mustang brings him to a more hopeful place. The acting is great, the plot moves along quickly, and the imagery and music sets an atmosphere appropriate to the story. The training of the mustang has a number of inaccuracies, but their distractions are minimal. The relationship development of the imprisoned father and his neglected daughter is the core of the story for me. Many elements of the story are predictable, but in total it is an enjoyable movie.
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imamessiah28 March 2019
The cliche name should give it all away. You can read a 2 sentence synopsis and figure out the plot of of this movie. They're really beating a dead horse here. Good if you like those Lifetime movies. Heavy-handed and boring.
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Real yawner, believe it or not.
sijoe2231 March 2019
Not a single character to "root for," virtually everyone in the flick was a miserable turd.

Dialogue horrible, sometimes you couldn't even hear what characters were saying.

Even ending "credits" were a disappointment, you'd think they'd show real-life photos of lead character, but noooooooooo.
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It failed to pull me in .
rmvoyage6 May 2019
When there is a horse involved I bring along the tissues . Tears without fail . However something was missing. Some emotion? Something to pull me into the story? Loved Mathias! He struggled so hard with his emotions and tears he never knew he had but I watched it all calmly ! And sorry can't believe drugs like Ketamine would be so easy to steal . !
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Horse sense vs movie sense
stevenclark-4300717 April 2019
Overall "The Mustang" is entertaining if you know little or nothing about how horses really behave. The movie is created to tug at our human hearts at the expense of humane horse management and training. For instance there is no way that the horse once released into the wild will every come close to that prison again, rather it will find a herd to join up with. In true movie making style each scene is created to "wrangle the heart" of the viewer, not realistically but with intensity and drama. Working with horses takes time and much patience, which understandably can't be squeezed into a feature film. So saddle up, enjoy the movie and then learn how to really work with and train horses.
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Bring a pillow for this one, folks
This movie is dull as dish water, none of the characters are likeable, and the movie just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, somehow it moves pretty fast, but if you must watch this drivel wait until it's on cable tv
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