The Mustang, Film4, director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Screenplay by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock||

I was brought up watching Champion the Wonder Horse. It could do pretty much anything apart from shoot a gun and dance backwards like Ginger Rodgers. The Mustang is from the same breed. The spiel before the film tells the viewer there are thousands of horses running wild. But they’re overbreeding. Ironically, they are also dying off because there’s no enough land for them to forage and roam. Some might need to be ‘euthanized’, which is dying off quicker than I guess a horse, Champion, or otherwise, would like. Some are rehabilitated. Hooray! Rounded up and put to work. Boo.  An actual rehabilitation program in Carson City, Nevada is the template for other prisons in places like California, which open up a slick new super prison every week. America locks up more of its citizens than any other nation and more than any other nations combined. Perhaps the system and not the Champion the Wonder Horse needs looked at? Discuss?

Man versus Horse. Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) is shovelling horse shit after he gets moved from isolation into the general prison population. Myles (Bruce Dern) has been watching Roman. Myles plays the croaky and old, crazy-as-horse-shit trainer who runs the programme. He’s the kind of guy Rocky would have in his corner called Buster, wielding a sponge and a side-mouth squall of how to beat the reining champ into a chump. Myles puts Roman (not Rocky) onto the programme. He’s got twelve weeks to train a wild mustang before horses are sold at an auction (or euthanized/murdered). You need to be on the programme.

Horse versus Man. Roman gets the loopy horse. The one (like him) banged up and kicking the walls down.  Will Rocky Roman win the horse’s affection or find himself? He throws a few jabs. There’ll be setbacks. We’ll here the story of his life broken into bits and pieces. Fed to us like oats. Horses are good listeners. They rarely interrupt. Those on the programme are less likely to reoffend, but they might be a self-selecting group. But we all like to give a horse a break.

Horse and Man versus Society. Fling in a thunder storm. The return of a pregnant daughter that needs her dad to come to terms with what he was and is.  A rodeo this is hit or miss in the last chance saloon. Will the horse come good? Will the man come good? Will Society give a sucker a break? We know the answer to the last question and it’s always ‘no’. We used to talk about Soviet gulags. American redemption…?