The western at its heart has always been a love story between a man and his horse. The new modern western focus on the rehabilitation of the soul between both man and beast. The Mustang hones in on the very essence of that plot fact, concentrating on those most in need of rehabilitation, prisoner and equally wild stallion.
That simplicity is what gives The Mustang its emotional power and moral heft. It gallops and gambols in the slow steady process of horse and man saving and rehabilitating each other.
That attention on redeeming the unredeemable is what makes The Mustang the most heartbreaking and rewarding film released this year. Mathias Schoenaert gives an indelible performance in a film filled with many.
The ending, like all good westerns, is both devastating and hopeful. The oater has always relied on well earned and fond farewells in the end.
Progress means living and riding in the iron horse and contained horsepower.
All photos courtesy of Focus Features.