Review: THE MUSTANG Is A Majestic Tale Of Redemption

mustang bucking
Matthias Schoenaerts stars as Roman Coleman in Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s THE MUSTANG, a Focus Features release. Credit : Tara Violet Niami / Focus Features.

The Mustang is a new drama film co-written and directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. The movie tells the story of a violent convict who is given the chance to rehabilitate in a program that allows his to train wild mustangs. It debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews.

The story of the film is a somewhat straightforward redemption arc, but it is quite effective nonetheless. The wild mustang rehabilitation program featured in the movie is based on a true program that exists in multiple states. This part of the story is definitely very compelling, as we care about the character’s success. There are a few subplots that aren’t as effectively handled, but the main story works so well that these elements are not distracting.

One of the reasons that the film works so well is that its character development is excellent. A redemption arc doesn’t work without a protagonist to redeem himself, and this movie does an excellent job of setting that up. The film emphasizes the character’s humanity and flaws in a way that makes him feel relatable to audiences despite the extraordinary circumstances in which he finds himself.

mustang bruce dern
Bruce Dern stars as Myles in Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s THE MUSTANG, a Focus Features release.
Credit : Tara Violet Niami / Focus Features.

The message of the movie is very important and relevant to our current society. The film promotes second chances for those who have made mistakes in our society but have been rehabilitated. With the ex-convict stigma still being present today, this movie is quite meaningful and has the potential to change minds if enough people see it.

However, the film also has a second message of stepping back and taking time to appreciate the world in which we live. No matter how bad we think we have it, there is always a silver lining. The movie encourages the audience to see and appreciate the natural beauty of the world in ways by which we don’t often look at it.

mustang prison
Matthias Schoenaerts (left) as Roman Coleman and Gideon Adlon (right) as Martha in Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s THE MUSTANG, a Focus Features release. Credit : Focus Features.

The performances in the film are quite good too. Matthias Schoenaerts is wonderful in his lead role. He has so much emotional depth and nuance . His performances is one of the driving forces of the movie, and it is easy to get behind his turn. The supporting cast features great turns by Jason Mitchell and Bruce Dern, each of whom is given a handful of moments to shine. The only real disappointment in the cast is Connie Britton, who is very talented and certainly not bad in her role, but feels sadly underused, as she doesn’t really show her range.

Furthermore, the film is extremely good on a technical level. The visuals of the movie are absolutely brilliant. Many of the shots are absolutely majestic like the eponymous animal. The film uses slow motion in a way that does not feel cheap or unnecessary, but rather highlights the emotional resonance of the movie. The score of the film is great too, accenting the tone and emotion.

Overall, The Mustang was a very impressive directorial debut by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Although the subplots aren’t fully developed, everything else in the film is wonderful, from the message to the acting to the execution. This is one you won’t want to miss.

The Mustang is now playing in theaters.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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