"Quietly Redemptive Story Marred by Rough Content"
What You Need To Know:
This movie is a soft look into the lives of the men in prison, showing that no one is past redemption. Coleman subconsciously sees a lot of himself in this wild mustang, and he’s able to confront things that have been holding him back after training with this horse. The story is very nicely done, with compelling characters that create empathy for viewers. However, the moral, redemptive worldview in THE MUSTANG is marred by lots of strong foul language, some intense violence, and references to the drug culture within the prison. Extreme caution is advised.
THE MUSTANG follows Roman Coleman who has been in prison now for around six years, serving time for a violent act that he committed during a momentary rage long ago. However, his anger issues have not improved while spending time behind bars. Instead, he prefers to be alone, telling himself and his counselor that he just isn’t good with other people. Determined to make some progress with Coleman, his counselor puts him on a new work assignment that will force him out of his unprogressive comfort zone. Despite his protests, he is soon outside with a shovel and wheelbarrow, moving horse manure from place to place. He watches the other men in their denim garb, cowboy hats and boots working with the horses.
One day, Coleman hears loud banging from inside of an enclosure. The cage has been blocked from the bottom up with large wooden planks, and something inside is angrily banging on the door to be free. Coleman peaks inside a small opening to see a raging mad mustang staring back at him. When he opens the door, the head of the program, Myles, immediately scolds him, telling him how dangerous that could have been for him and everyone else.
Soon, Coleman is accepted into the mustang training program, being assigned right away to the wild mustang that he almost set free earlier. Henry, an inmate who has been training horses for a while now, takes Coleman under his wing, teaching him how to not let the horse to control him. Henry prides himself in being the best trainer in the program and shows off his skills regularly. However, Coleman is still dealing with repressed anger and doesn’t know how to deal with it. In frustration, he takes it out on his horse, getting him quickly kicked out from the program. The small amount of progress he has made recedes, and he snaps back into the bitter man he was.
Suddenly, a storm begins to rage in the Nevada desert, and the horses are going mad outside. Coleman is summoned from his cell to help out amidst the chaos. The next day, Myles extends his good graces and allows Coleman back into the mustang training program. Coleman is now determined to train his horse right and get him ready for the auction. Excited about his new goals, he tells his daughter when she comes to visit and invites her to see him ride his mustang in the auction. During this visit, his daughter becomes vulnerable, expressing how much he hurt her, and she doesn’t think that a few weeks with a horse will change anything. However, Coleman’s heart has been softened, and he wants nothing more than to have her love and forgiveness. He has to prove to himself, and those he loves, that he’s a changed man, and that he can now live a life for the better.
THE MUSTANG is very well done, with a quietness to the emotions of characters, easily creating empathy and curiosity within viewers. It’s a fascinating story based on a real program that has helped many, many people in prisons all over the US. The performances by all the actors are beautifully done, helping to create the world where their characters reside. This movie serves as an example of a symbiotic relationship between man and nature. The horses are a therapeutic way where these prison inmates can internally seek forgiveness and redemption. There is no mention of God or any other higher power that provides the forgiveness and redemption, however, although it’s a major theme.
THE MUSTANG does contain lots of strong foul language, some intense violence, and references to the drug culture within the prison. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.