JOCKEY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
If you have a love for horses and have lost any money at the races, then this movie is for you. This is the feature film debut for director and co-writer Clint Bentley. If this film is any inkling of what he can do then I see a long and successful career for this filmmaker.
Jockey tells the story of an aging famous jockey named Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) facing what could be his last season. He hopes to win one last title for his longtime friend and horse trainer Ruth Wilkes (Molly Parker). She has made millions for other people and finally has a shot at the big time for herself. Her very own horse appears to have the makings of a champion. She wants to have Jackson ride her horse all the way to the winner’s circle. However, the years and injuries have taken a toll on Jackson’s body. Just when he is given a chance to ride a champion horse like this one his ability to continue competing is put into question by his failing health.
Add to the mix the arrival of a young nineteen-year-old rookie rider named Gabriel (Moises Arias) who looks and handles horses a lot like Jackson. Gabriel claims to be his son, and Jackson takes a shine to that idea, training the young man on how to ride better and how to win. His kindness to this young man further complicates the path to Jackson fulfilling his dream of winning big one more season.
From the opening scene where Jackson and another older jockey are talking shit about the horses on the track to the last bitter-sweet scene with Jackson after losing a race, this film plants you firmly inside the “backside” of racetrack life. Even casting real-life jockeys in smaller roles. Much like the 2017 film The Rider you see what men are willing to endure to ride a good horse and win a competition.
The cinematography of Adolpho Veloso for this film is lush. It’s soaked in with the orange of sunsets and choked with the dust kicked up by the horses all around. Paired perfectly with the haunting musical score from twin brothers Bryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner (of The National) this film is a gently paced meditation on growing older in a rugged sport. All of this artistry is a wonderful frame for the transcendent performance of its leading man Clifton Collins Jr. His portrayal of the aged Jackson Silva is all at once riveting and heartbreaking. He is able, with one look or grimace of pain to make you feel like you have ridden all those races with him in the saddle. So, his fall from grace is your misery as well, as he handles it like the strong man he is.
I give Jockey a 4.5-star rating. It’s a great ride and not to be missed.
Directed by: Clint Bentley
Written by: Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar
Selig Rating 4.5 Stars
Running Time: 1h 34min
Limited Theatrical Release: January 28th The Angelika Film Center & Cafe Dallas and Plano
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr, Moises Aris, Molly Parker
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.