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By Megan Bianco
Horse-centered films have become such a novelty with family-friendly content and little girls’ interests that when a horse movie for grown-ups comes along, people don’t know what to do with it. Last year, Lean on Pete was one of the best independent films of 2018, one of the best horse-themed movies, and seriously depressing on top of all that. So barely anyone saw it. This spring, Focus Features’ The Mustang is going to present a similar situation.
In a Nevada state prison, Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) is in the middle of spending a decade serving time for a violent crime. His anger issues sometimes cause him to be put in isolation, and he prefers not to talk to people. His teenage daughter, Martha (Gideon Adlon), is ready to be emancipated from him so she can start her life over. At the same time, a rehab program that involves training wild horses is offered to him.
Bruce Dern and Connie Britton co-star as Roman’s personal mentors. Watching the film, or even just the trailer, one probably wouldn’t guess The Mustang was actually produced by a French production team. Actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre makes her directorial debut and surprisingly isn’t out of place with such an American setting. Similarly, Schoenaerts successfully pulls off playing a Californian as a Belgian actor. The Mustang isn’t as depressing as Lean on Pete, but it is a good reminder of how therapeutic being with a special animal can be, no matter who you are. Don’t let the “R” rating turn you away (unless you’re younger than 16).