Sunday, September 26, 2021

Jockey: Movie Review

One man fighting for his future and reflecting on his past.
I’m not into horse racing and I’ve never really watched horse racing movies, but Jockey is not that. Jockey is a character study about a man at the end of his career not ready to accept that he is not infallible. Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) is a champion at his sport, but his body is starting to fail him, and he's realizing that doesn’t have anything else to hold on to.   2021

Directed by: Clint Bentley

Screenplay by: Clint Bentley

Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Moises Arias

Jackson is still a top jockey, but a hand tremor has led him to see a doctor. He goes to see a veterinarian, the vet knows it’s serious enough to go see a human doctor, but Jackson has an inkling what that doctor is going to tell him and he’s not ready to be forced out of his career, so he chooses to ignore it.

The film has a tough balancing act because Jackson isn’t a purely sympathetic character. He’s unlikable, egotistical and has very little intention of being a mentor to younger riders. Why should he help them out when he’s never gotten a helping hand? In walks Gabriel (Moises Arias, the former Disney actor growing up in his career) – Gabriel’s a young, aspiring Jockey willing to work anywhere, earn his keep and glean what he can from Jackson.

Jackson wants nothing to do with him. Even after Gabriel tells him he’s his son, he still wants nothing to do with him. The film eventually becomes warmer, and helped out by the scenes of the Arizona sunset, but this is a very indie drama spurred on by the American belief of victory at the cost of everything else. But Jackson has to start deciding if his sport (which is starting to fail him) is more important than family, what even is family, and what choices has he made in the past that he would now make differently if Gabriel is indeed his son.

Clifton Collins Jr. as Jackson Silva in JOCKEY. Image by Adolpho Veloso. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. 

As I said, this really isn’t about horse racing. We see parts of three races: one on a small television that Jackson is watching, and two others in which we see only one character’s face. Those reactions tell us who won or lost, and how the wins or losses affect our main characters. This is a character-based indie drama and nobody is going to get caught up in an underdog sports story. The one race this film is in is the Oscar Best Actor race for Clifton Collins Jr.. Jackson is a jockey but his struggles are universal and Collins excels at portraying his fears and frustrations and connecting the audience on his personal journey.

As evident from the poster, Jockey makes excellent use of the natural colours of the Arizona-based race-tracks. Many scenes occurring at dusk with the setting sun echoing the twilight of Jackson’s career. One man fighting for his future and reflecting on his past.