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149. Concrete Cowboy; movie review

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Title : 149. Concrete Cowboy; movie review
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Cert 15
111 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, drugs misuse

People of colour ride horses in Philadelphia. Really?
I had thought that Ricky Staub's film was a flight of fancy but it turns out it is founded in fact because there has been a long history of urban stables in Pennsylvania's biggest city.
Indeed, some of those who ride today were recruited for Concrete Cowboys which stars true Brit, Idris Elba.
This is another role, made for an American, which has been given to one of my countrymen.
Surely, this must be brassing stateside actors off?
I digress.
Caleb McLaughlin plays Cole who is expelled from school in Detroit and brought to Philly by a mother (Liz Priestley) who is at the end of her tether.
He literally shoves him out of her car outside the home of his estranged father (Elba) whom he is told is at "the stables".
Initially, I presumed that must be a bar but, no, his dad and his pals really are passionate about stallions, mares etc.
His dad even has one living in his house!
Needless to say, the kid who thinks he is street-wise kicks against this way of living and decides to renew acquaintance with a lad from his childhood (Jharrel Jerome).
Unfortunately, his pal makes his money from dealing drugs and mixing with the sort of people to whom getting shot is an occupational hazard.
This comes down to the point of Concrete Cowboy - the choice of which track a teenager should follow.
Cole comes in for a bellyful of advice and the toughest of love from his dad and has the alternative of fast bucks and a good time with his friend.
And, like most young people, he acts as if he deaf to experience and believes he is indestructible.
I was impressed by McLaughlin - he splendidly portrays his character's dilemma of knowing that the 'old folk' are probably wiser while feeling the need to experience life for himself.
And he is also angry - both at his mother for palming him off and his father for not being there previously,
Elba is more low-key as the dad who is finding his way for the first time as a parent.
But it is the true story which will live longest and it was a smart move to include those who have lived it.
It adds authenticity and their participation is seamless.

Reasons to watch: Unusual and engaging
Reasons to avoid: Sometimes tricky to follow the dialogue

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 7.5/10

Did you know? 
The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is an official non-profit organisation devoted to inner-city horsemanship in north Philadelphia. Part of a century-long tradition of black urban cowboys and horsemanship in Philadelphia, local horsemen maintain and care for horses and teach neighbourhood youth to do so. They encourage academic excellence and provide positive ways for local youth to spend their leisure time outdoors.

The final word. Idris Elba: "It was more like shooting a documentary than a movie because we were there so much. And we were shooting on location with real people who lived there, who were also in the film. And we really got a sense of who everyone is and Ricky had lived in Philadelphia for three years before even making this film to really get to know this story."

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