Show & Tell: The Mustang


First, I want to give a big shout-out to Mother Nature for sending a load of crap weather our way. Even as devoted a movie enthusiast as I would have had to think twice about heading to The Music Hall for a movie and leaving the warm sunshine behind.

Wait, who am I kidding? For the right movie, I’d ignore the Super Bowl. But you knew that already, right?

Fortunately, Tuesday’s movie at TMH is The Mustang, which features one of the most compelling acting performances that I’ve seen in years.

The actor is Matthias Schoenarts, the muscle-bound force of nature in Rust and Bone and the quiet strength in the 2015 version of Far From the Madding Crowd.

The Mustang is set primarily in a U.S. prison, which sets up a certain set of expectations, including high-testosterone rivalry and violence. But the twist in The Mustang is a program that lets prisoners tame and train wild mustangs, who will then be sold at auction. (Such a program actually exists.)

Anyone who has ever seen a movie that puts an animal and a convict together has a pretty fair idea of what’s likely to happen. The animal and the convict will bond and save one another; happy ending.

The Mustang, fortunately, isn’t that simple-minded. As Schoenarts plays Roman Coleman, the prisoner, there’s a deep, deep well of violence at his core, and he’s no more capable of taming himself than he is of actually getting to know and respect a horse. And with as convincingly physical an actor as Schoenarts, violence is always on tap.

There are two characters who give Coleman a chance to develop, including a wonderful turn by Bruce Dern as the head of the Mustang program.

I’ve already seen The Mustang, one benefit of a trip to Tulsa earlier this year, so I know it’s well worth seeing (and discussing). It’s not a perfect movie, but the good parts are so good, that you really shouldn’t miss it. The horse shots alone make it worth the trip.

So break out your umbrella and make your way to The Historic Theater on Tuesday night and we’ll talk about a French director’s take on the U.S. penal system.

And don’t forget to tell your iPhone to remind you of the discussion of The Biggest Little Farm on June 25.

See you there!

Paul Goodwin