While Millie Bobby Brown has by far proven to be the breakout star among Stranger Things ‘gang of talented teenagers, the rest of the shows’ younger cast members have slowly but steadily entered the mainstream. Finn Wolfhards instantly spins in It has given him serious influence beyond Netflix projects, and Gaten Matarazzo is the host of a hidden camera show, Prank Encounters, which is entering its second season. But, perhaps taking the biggest genre leap since Stranger Things, it’s Caleb McLaughlin, whose latest Concrete Cowboy movie. premiered on Netflix on Friday April 2. While McLaughlins’ lively performance proves he has the juice to be a true movie star in the making, the film itself grew out of a serious identity crisis and a lack of substantive direction. Concrete Cowboy does tackle some intriguing concepts, admittedly, but can never commit to picking a strong story and following it – a weakness that results in a downright mediocre end result.
Based on Greg Neri’s novel Ghetto Cowboy and inspired by the true story of the Philadelphia-based Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, Concrete Cowboy follows Cole (McLaughlin), a troubled young man who has been sent to live with his former father Harp. (Idris Elba) for the summer. Although Cole immediately falls with Smush (Jharrel Jarome), a drug dealer, he eventually discovers and learns to appreciate his father’s love for horseback riding, and finds himself in the tight-knit community of urban cowboys known as name of Fletcher Street Riding. Club.
The most magnetic aspect of Concrete Cowboy is the premise of the film. The film and the novel it is based on is inspired by the aforementioned Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a number of members of which also play supporting roles as cowboys in the film. Concrete Cowboy is constantly telling us about the history and meaning of the Philly Cowboys, but it just can’t be seen what makes them so special, we get a glimpse of it every now and then, but there’s never a point where the movie really feels like it’s really capitalizing on the gold mine of a story that it has in his hands.
Considering the importance of cowboy culture to the myth of the United States, and the uniqueness of such a tight-knit group that keeps the tradition alive in an urban area like Philadelphia, one would think Concrete Cowboy would want to play how incredible it is of a phenomenon that is, and dig into the history, culture and social functioning of the group.
Sadly, however, the movie is rather structured around the story of the fictional Cole, whose narrative is about as straightforward as a boy and his pet movie may have a streak of bad behavior because he’s just coming. of a broken house. , but suddenly when he finds kinship with an animal and discovers a new side of himself. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done and hasn’t been done better this time around, it’s a black kid with a horse in Philadelphia as opposed to a white kid with a mange roaming the suburbs .
Even more frustrating about the banality of the movie narrative is that we do get a glimpse of the dynamism of the Fletcher Street Riders in addition to filling the supporting cast, their interviews also play out the end credits of the film and those five minutes of sound bites as the credits roll are more authentic and engaging than the rest of the film combined.
Missed Opportunities, however, Concrete Cowboy features a number of interesting concepts, none of which are dug with a significant amount of time or depth. Cole has hardly any character development to speak of, and we don’t even have a clue of who he is until the film starts, other than a bad kid from Detroit. His father Harp, too, is strangely underdeveloped, he’s practically a minor character until halfway through the movie, when director Ricky Staub apparently realized that Oh wait, I picked Idris Elba in my movie, I guess. that I have to use it. The strongest of the group is Jharrel Jeromes, the Smush tracer, who, despite being a walking stereotype, has some depth in his character thanks to an engaged performance by Jerome. Part of the reason the characters in Concrete Cowboy don’t work is that the movie wants to have four ways: to be a story about a boy and his horse, a story about a boy trying to reconnect with his father, a story about a boy and his horse, a story about a boy trying to reconnect with his father, a story about a boy and his horse. boy trying to decide between living on the edge or on the right path and a story delving into equestrian culture in Philadelphia.
But the movie just doesn’t seem to decide which one of these ideas he likes the most and tries to do them all in an hour and 50 minutes, so each individual wire is half-baked and the end product comes out in a dark, flat mess. It’s easy to imagine how an ambitious narrative like this could be presented as a novel where readers have 10 to 15 hours to meet all the characters and immerse themselves in the cowboy world of Philly, but in a cinematic landscape, time is money, and Concrete Cowboy can’t figure out how to budget for it properly.
In terms of aesthetic quality, however, Concrete Cowboy is much more formidable. The film has a distinct tone-on-tone theme (if not a note), which echoes well in the visuals and the score. The cinematography is memorable and often innovative for a Netflix movie, and the score alternates between vibrating strings and lazy, warm brass. Costume and hairstyle and makeup are also particularly effective in painting a portrait of a unique subset of American culture. If Concrete Cowboy were an art installation about riders as opposed to a movie, it would have real promise.
Ultimately, however, Concrete Cowboy tries to juggle too many aspects of a multi-faceted community, and ends up with a mundane but compelling package that audiences end up with a vehicle that is satisfying enough to develop McLoughlin as a chef. in line, but not entertainment. or visual experience in motion.
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