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TIFF 2020: “Concrete Cowboy”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Every parent wants his or her child to succeed; be a good child, law obedient, get an education, find a well-paid job, get married, have children and live happily ever after.

Cole’s (Caleb McLaughlin) mother, struggling in Detroit with her son, is fed up with all the issues he has at school and outside of it. She decides to leave him with his estranged father (Idris Elba). First, Cole does not want to stay nor do something about his life. But when he starts doing a hard job, earning his own dollar, and getting drowned in his own sweat and making new friends, the man slowly begin to change, but for better or worse? That’s the journey “Concrete Cowboy” is about to take us on.

When Cole was kicked from his school, his mother, realizing that she can lose her son, makes a life-changing decision – she drives him all the way to Philadelphia to his father. While he stands by the door, his father is nowhere to be found, however, the boy finally finds him near the stable, where he was sitting with his friends. Their reunion though was not as warm as one would expect. This is why, upset and mad and vulnerable Cole meets his old pal Shum (Jharrel Jerome), a young man who does business with dangerous criminals.

All that does not matter, as Cole must make his journey to embrace the opportunity his mother gave him. He will get into trouble, he will face danger. But his biggest fear is Cole himself – he must understand that if he doesn’t want to change, nobody can do it for him. Director Ricky Staub recreates a heartwarming and a feel-good atmosphere despite some violence and drug use scenes to give the audience some hope. We know that Cole will be able to connect with his father but it is rather the process that is pure joy to follow, seeing how two men, in their own way, grow to be better for their own sake.

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