Aaron Lanton • May 31, 2021
Concrete Cowboy is a coming-of-age film about teenager Cole who comes across a love for the cowboy way of life while struggling with his inner demons. It’s also the subject of our latest Low Key Podcast, which you can check out above or on Google or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
The film follows a teenager named Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) whose mother sends him from Detroit to Philadelphia to stay with his estranged father Harp (Idris Elba), after a series of fights at school that nearly get him expelled. The premise is nearly as old storytelling, but Concrete Cowboy successfully pulls off most of what it seeks to accomplish.
Still, in the episode, Keith Dennie, Tim Molloy and I also talk about some ways it misses important marks.
This film serves as another example of Netflix featuring a modern subculture the audience didn’t know existed, this time in the form of the Black American Cowboys in Philadelphia who are still present today. In fact, most of the cowboys in this movie actually follow the lifestyle now and are not trained actors which makes the feat of their strong performances even more impressive.
That’s not the only feature the movie shares with multi-award nominated Nomadland. Keith opines during this episode that the two movies both are stories about American subcultures invisible to the mainstream that are more interesting the character’s narrative surrounding those explorations. You’ll hear where that leads during the podcast. What is indisputable is that Concrete Cowboy is well acted, shot beautifully, and feels authentic, from the horse riding to costumes.
Watch the movie, then listen to the pod —Keith, Tim, and I are spoilerific as always. Topics include the issues with a passive protagonist, comparisons to Boyz n the Hood, and how Concrete Cowboy handles the cycle of estranged fathers and violence.
Concrete Cowboy is now streaming on Netflix.
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