In Jockey, director/co-writer Clint Bentley offers audiences a reflective perspective from the eyes of horse jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.). Silva is respected around the track but, otherwise, he’s a reclusive athlete who is becoming a little long in the tooth to be continuing with his sport. He encounters increasing issues with his body, both from past injuries and aging, but his physical weaknesses haven’t broke his determination. Even when he’s faced with the possibilities of reuniting with wayward son Gabriel (Moises Arias), Silva never takes his eye off of his own ambition.
Clifton Collins Jr., as expected, is terrific as Silva. He’s been a memorable character actor throughout his career, and he rises to the occasion to play Jackson. Arias is noteworthy too as he comprehends Gabriel’s struggles to goofy and heart-wrenching degrees. Molly Parker, last seen as a scene-stealer in Netflix’s Pieces of a Woman, is a standout as well as Jackson’s long-time friend and partner Ruth. There seems to be a great sense of communication between the film’s cast and Bentley, who shows promising and empathetic qualities as a budding filmmaker.
Jockey is good, but is it good enough? Bentley seems to have been inspired by recent character studies of flawed athletes, such as Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, but the movie struggles to find its way out of the shadow of those examples. This may be due to how lean the movie is on material, or how dependent the story is on meditative montages. The film is also weighed down by a narrative path that seems too calculated. For instance, Jackson is extremely cold towards Gabriel when they first meet. But then without much motivation, Jackson tries to spend more time with him. This arc plays out as an expectation, and not as a natural decision. Likewise for other interactions with fellow athletes and romantic will-they-won’t-they banter between Jackson and Ruth.
Jockey still receives a recommendation, but I hope Clint Bentley’s sophomore effort will go through less motions.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie