The Mustang

Showing on Sky Movies and other streaming services.

Based on writer director Laure de Clermont-Tonerre’s short 2014 film Rabbit, The Mustang is a fictional story based on a true prisoner rehabilitation program in the US where prisoners work with wild Mustang’s to help “break” them and prepare them for sale.

It focuses on Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) who, on been moved to a new prison, becomes part of the program, run by the always watchable Bruce Dern’s, Myles. Myles takes the quiet and surly Roman and gives him purpose and a belief in what he can be beyond what he believes he is.

The film follows many a familiar trope for this kind of story, the parallels between the caged wild horses, who are to be taken, broken and sold on into “society” and the men who train them are laid on pretty thick, as is the story of how purpose and someone believing in someone else can change a life, but let’s face it they’re not bad messages to push hard are they.

While the story messages are not subtle, the performances are, the story telling is patient and Schoenaerts provides a compelling and complex central character. There are no real over the top prison figures, no scary Mr Big, no vicious warden or guards there are scenes of the grim realities of prison life and the complexities of Roman’s character, his past continually bubbling under the surface, including a difficult relationship with his daughter as he tries to battle with who he is who he has been and perhaps, who he’d like to be.

The Mustang is a steady paced story, no grandstanding or set pieces, captures the harshness of prison life, the difficulties of change and trying to become something new and with a final act that isn’t afraid to say “sometimes you just can’t change” alongside a very watchable central performance, it delivers an enjoyable and intriguing film.

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