Thoughts On: The Mustang - Self-Redemption

11/09/2019

The Mustang - Self-Redemption

Quick Thoughts: The Mustang (2019)

A self-isolating convict seeks reformation through a wild horse taming and training programme.


Though lacking a touch of needed subtlety and hush, The Mustang is a poignant tale of redemption. It constructs a somewhat transparent allegory between man and animal, depicting the taming of wildness as a process of belated individuation. In addition, this is so much so about moments that shape lives, about the ease with which a house that took a decade to build can be knocked down. Digging for the foundations of character, The Mustang achieves success in its method of representing subjectivity. I found this to be particularly highlighted by the horse that is played (somewhat metaphorically) against the reforming convict. The horse is given character, and supplies character, without humanisation. That is to say that the horse stands as a character without being personified, without the script treating it as a person. This nuance and clarity of realism supplies the narrative with something rather unique and affecting. This achievement sits central in the film's dramaturgy, the place upon which all complex characterisation is built. Before noting the films slight shortcomings, the beauty of certain images must be commended. Motion is where the cinematography team find near perfection. It is in unclichéd and deeply affecting shots of horses in motion that then emotionally stir whilst seemingly symbolising the all important element of persistent, fluid transformation and change across the narrative.

These details make for an easily overlooked film well worth seeing. However, this isn't flawless. The drama bears too much melos, which is to say the script, direction and performances do not manage the fictional melodrama and realism brilliantly. Without balance here, photogénie around the human subject is tinged and unclarified. There is then something of a distance embedded in close ups and intimate stretches of narrative put in place by an element of clear contrivance that seems to have no place in the film. This downfall ripples quite far out. It effects the aesthetic texture of the film and depersonalises the cinematic space ever so slightly. Furthermore, there is an explicit element of the realism that feels unnecessary and forced. What, we are then left questioning, is the necessity of emphasising contextual facts and the rest real-world truth of the story? As implied, however, I think this is a rather wonderful film and a very impressive directorial debut.




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