Jockey (2021) review – honest, thoughtful, and offers a plaintive cry

January 7, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews
4

Summary

Jockey, riding on the talents of its lead, is a wonderfully moving, honest, and thoughtful film, while also offering a plaintive cry.

4

Summary

Jockey, riding on the talents of its lead, is a wonderfully moving, honest, and thoughtful film, while also offering a plaintive cry.

This review of the film Jockey does not contain spoilers.

Clifton Collins Jr gives a titanic performance in Jockey, an actor who was never given the respect he deserved for his work in Capote. He plays Jackson, a well-respected jockey who has been racing horses for Ruth Wilkes (Pieces of a Woman’s Molly Parker). He isn’t just walking around with the beginning of weathered and leathery features. His body has started to break down physically. 

Jackson lives in a trailer on Ruth’s horse farm and does not have health insurance. So he gets a local veterinarian who specializes in equine injuries. Jackson is sensing this is the end, but Ruth drops some good news that she has procured a rare racehorse that will give them both the breed they’ve been waiting for. This stroke of luck coincides when he notices a new jockey, Gabriel (Moises Arias), following him around like a lost puppy dog. He has a secret and tells Jackson that his son is from a relationship decades prior. 

Clint Bentley directed Jockey and co-wrote the script with Greg Kwedar (Transpecos). Jockey is Bentley’s feature directorial debut, and his film is a character study of exceptional depth. Even the most minor character feels grounded, and even authentic. This gives you a real sense of what it’s like to be a jockey who is fighting their expiration dates. For instance, you’ll be treated to several riders sitting trading war stories about their injuries, including Logan (Leo Brock), a battered equestrian who was left bedridden and pleaded with Jackson to make something for himself because the owners use them like the horses they ride. They will be put out to pasture at any point.

Bentley’s contemplative nature brings to the film mixed well with Clifton Collins’s brooding yet dignified turn. You just don’t watch his tailspin from arrogant jockey to a man who let down his guard because he was ready to accept more out of life; he makes you feel it. He brings an emotional resonance that many attempt to portray, but very few can achieve. His performance is richly layered, as he goes through denial and acceptance that time has caught up with him and not everyone is allowed in the winner’s circle.

Jockey, riding on the talents of its lead, is a wonderfully moving, honest, and thoughtful film, while also offering a plaintive cry.

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