‘Concrete Cowboy’ is a Netflix drama film that is centered around the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is directed by Ricky Staub and had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival before being acquired by the streaming service.
Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is a troubled teenager from Detroit who gets dropped off at his father’s home in Philadelphia after being expelled from school following a fight. His father Harp (Idris Elba) is an urban cowboy who lives on Fletcher Street, a community of African-Americans choosing to live the life of the Old West inside the city. He has trouble adapting to this lifestyle and, despite his father’s warnings, falls into the drug life with his childhood friend Smush (Jharrel Jerome). As Cole grows closer to the horses, local cop Leroy (Clifford “Method Man” Smith) to community leaders Rome (Byron Bowers) and Nessie (Lorraine Toussaint) warns them that their neighborhood is being targeted by city officials.
I will admit, I am a sucker for two types of movies: father-son journeys and citizens fighting bureaucracy to save their neighborhoods. This movie is a solid ride and manages to successfully balance both of these narratives and does it without making you feel like the plot is bloated.
My one issue with the film is the revisionism of the origin of the term “cowboy.” The movie gives some woke nonsense of where it came from when in fact the term originates from the Spain slang word “vaquero” and was first used in print by English writer Jonathan Swift while describing cattle herders. Obviously, cowboys were varied in their ethnicity with many coming from different backgrounds.
As for the story, I was hooked. Like I previously stated, the movie does a good job of balancing its two plots without wearing you down. It was a heartfelt story about a young man needing a father and a father who has only been comfortable on the back of a horse. I connected with the characters, their troubles, and their desire to protect their way of life.
Idris Elba does a good job as a father who meets his son for the first time. Likewise, Caleb McLaughlin is excellent as the prodigal son. The two had good chemistry, working well together in their roles and bringing the story together. The rest of the cast does excellent and I was stunned to see that a few of the characters were played by real cowboys and cowgirls from Fletcher Street. That was a nice touch and made the movie more relatable.
Bottom line, Concrete Cowboy is an interesting story that pulls you into the way of life these urban cowboys continue to celebrate.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Violence, Some drug related content
FAVORITE QUOTE: “There’s a horse in your house.”
Check out the trailer below:
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