What matters most in a movie like this is the Horseman, and Clifton Collins Jr. is a big face to follow throughout. Including her in almost every scene, the script gives us more of Collins than we’ve seen in previous roles, so there’s an excitement right off the bat watching her familiar face go to such emotional depth, or seeing him captivate prolonged shots that show him in action, during and after a grueling race.
His character, Jackson, is savvy about the passion of his life and has that confidence when he talks to Ruth (Molly Parker), a horse owner who has known him for a long time. But Jackson is confused about a lot of things in his past, including his own legacy when a young aspirant played by Moises Arias shows up and claims to be his son. This reveal, laudably handled with a little melodrama from the Bentley and Greg Kwedar script, leads the story to plenty of thoughtful scenes, with Collins’ performance still feeling lived-in and natural. There is an ease to this job, and if “Jockey” reminds more people of his expansive talents, he’s already a winner.
“Jockey” leads with austerity more than a story, and not much is happening outside of Collins’ work. In turn, his overt style becomes both his defining characteristic and his weakness. Bentley and cinematographer Adolfo Veloso use lots of magical, sunny hour shots, many of which are incredibly beautiful and painterly (including one on a river, as Jackson sees horses playing as the sun sets in the distance) , but they create an almost one-note statement, especially since these compositions are repeated too zealously. This puts more emphasis on how ‘Jockey’ finds cute ways of not saying anything particularly new, aside from contextualizing age, inheritance and mortality in the final round of a. tired jockey horse. Pair that with the sheet music, the kind that looks like an 88-piece orchestra tuning up and could easily be used in an overly serious jeans advertisement, and “Jockey” has a grandeur he can only dream of. Although Collins is excellent, “Jockey” is a requiem with a considerably smaller range in comparison.
Festival premiere as part of the US Dramatic Competition, “Wild indianMarks Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.’s directorial debut. He bears the mark of a director who always finds his full cinematic voice, often choosing script mechanics or an indulgent atmosphere, but he has two strong performances in his main roles, which make him a parallel study character with two strong faces. “Wild Indian” seeks to be poignant and daring, and yet at times the closed fist of the script feels more like a heavy hand.