There are about 100,000 wild horses still roaming the open range in
places like Nevada and Utah. Some
of them are rounded up by the government, in order to be brained by
convicts while serving time in federal penitentiaries.
The trained horses are then sold at auction, often to other
government agencies, like the Border Patrol.
This movie is the story of one convict, Roman (Matthais Schoenaerts),
and one very wild mustang who were both being given up on as too wild, too
ill-tempered, too antisocial. When
they found each other, it wasn't like a magical cure.
But it was a step in the right direction.
Starting with a rough kind of acceptance.
Roman has a lot of anger issues.
He's been imprisoned for a dozen years already, and his tough
exterior reflects his somber personality.
He really doesn't mind solitary confinement, because he prefers
being alone. He has regrets
about how he got there, which was through an impulsive act of violence,
entirely in keeping with his character.
The only one who's ever come to see him is his grown daughter,
Martha (Gideon Adlon),who can barely be civil to him.
He hasn't managed to mend fences with her, either.
His occasional cellmate is himself a violent man, who's somehow
managed to keep feeding his drug habit, even in prison.
It's a volatile situation; a powder keg awaiting a spark.
Roman has never worked with horses before, but he finds this one
particular mustang compelling, because he doesn't work well with others,
either. The attempts at trying
to get in the arena with him are clumsy and awkward.
But somehow the horse enjoys the confrontation, because at least
it's some form of attention. Roman
is frustrated with the lack of progress, but eventually he learns to
communicate. And throw on a
bridle. Then a saddle.
And then ride. Though
he does get thrown off, when either he gets distracted, or the horse does.
All of this is under the watchful eye of Myles (Bruce Dern), an
irascible old coot who's loudmouthed and ornery, but he wants his charges
to succeed, both human and animal.
It's a rough cob kind of redemption.
But gradually, we see some progress.
And at the end, the credits tell us that prisoners who have worked
with this program are much less likely to return to prison.
If it helps the poor recidivism rate, it's worth all the energy and
hassle. Because restoration is
never easy. But always worth