Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a tightly wound convict fresh out of solitary confinement at a maximum security prison in the Nevada desert. Still wary of human contact, Roman enrolls in a tough but rewarding rehabilitation program learning to train wild mustangs. Under the tutelage of grizzled trainer Myles (Bruce Dern), he takes charge of an ornery horse in the hopes of preparing it for an annual auction. With the wild animal acting as a mirror for his own raging emotions, Roman must learn to tame not only the mustang but also the beast within.
Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s engrossing character study finds hope in the desolate, sunbaked beauty of its desert setting. Juxtaposing the regimented rhythms of a prison drama with the wild lyricism of a Western, THE MUSTANG depicts one man’s attempts to rewrite the turbulent narrative of his life. Schoenaerts gives a quietly moving performance, suggesting deep wells of feeling buried beneath Roman’s hulking, hangdog frame; memorable performances by Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton and Jason Mitchell round out this story of self-discovery in the arid West.
“THE MUSTANG has an arc you can trace, but you will not, I promise you, predict the final shot, and it's a beauty—a tearjerker as delicate as they come.” —Owen Gleiberman, Variety “A bedrock-solid performance by Matthias Schoenaerts is central to this humanist film, which is rooted in the belief that even broken people can grow…. De Clermont-Tonnerre shows admirable restraint, knowing that, in her carefully constructed frames, it can be enough just to get Roman's newly compassionate eyes into a close-up with the expressionless eye of a horse.” —John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter “THE MUSTANG is evidence of how new life can be breathed into clichéd concepts with the right focus on character and setting, and trust in your performers...THE MUSTANG doesn’t feel the need to rush anywhere, allowing Roman to develop into a fully-formed character instead of just an archetype. It builds instead of races, knowing that it's the accumulation of minor character beats in a film like this one that really matter.” —Brian Tallerico, Rogerebert.com “It’s powered by a truly phenomenal performance by Schoenaerts, and so much care and sensitivity from Clermont-Tonnerre that it’s emotionally spellbinding from the moment Roman meets Marcus… An extremely well-directed movie, and a wildly impressive feature debut.” —Perri Nemiroff, Collider
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