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TV/Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Jockey’ (dir. Clint Bentley) | TIFF 2021

Combining the best of both worlds from sports movies and a father-son drama, this is sophisticatedly framed through an indie filmmaker lens. With heartfelt performances all around, it is a story that feels at once both familiar and brand new.

An aging horse jockey named Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) is forced to come to grips with his body’s limitations following years of injuries. Ruth (Molly Parker) is Jackson’s longtime trainer, and she is there for him during the training during the training for the upcoming final championship of this career. Gabriel (Moises Arias) comes into play in a role involving Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) that I don’t wish to spoil for you. Combine these great actors with some actual jockeys, and there you have it — Jockey.

Clint Bentley‘s Jockey combines the best of both worlds from sports movies and a father-son drama. It rides that fine line in a really nice way. Admittedly, you’ve probably seen something like this before, and you’ll immediately be reminded of horse movies from the past. However, this takes on a sophisticated approach framing things through an indie filmmaker lens. With heartfelt performances from the entire cast all around, it is a story that feels at once both familiar and brand new. 

While I’m not typically one to compare films to one another, Jockey reminded me of last year’s Nomadland in terms of how it was filmed with real-life jockeys interacting with the actors. It gave me that same wholesome feeling where I could tell these people were so genuinely passionate about something, and even though I know relatively little about the horse jockey industry, it made it all the more interesting to see the story play out. It’s kind of a coming of age story, kind of a slice-of-life “movie about nothing,” but you get attached to the characters and root for them to succeed or at least do well (both in competition and in life).

Clifton Collins Jr. plays an incredible leading man here, and his character has layers upon layers. I was also interested to see Molly Parker in this after seeing her in last year’s Pieces of a Woman.

This might make me sound extremely young, but it was fun to see Moises Aires after having seen him in Hannah Montana as a kid and The King of Staten Island last year. 

Prior to this film’s Sundance premiere earlier this year, Jockey was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. That is always a good sign for a film, and I think this fits perfectly into their niche of the movie market. I would love to at the very least see Clifton Collins Jr. in the conversation for Best Actor because he delivers something so distinctive in a role that could have gone so formulaic.

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