In horse-racing terms, jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) has rounded the far turn of his career and is in the home-stretch. But as anyone in the sport will tell you, it's all about how you finish the race that counts.
The drama "Jockey" is a showcase for the long-time character actor Clifton Collins Jr., who shows here that he has what it takes to carry a film all on his own. There are a few stumbles narratively, but Clifton keeps his head down and finishes this one in stride.
Jackson is seeing the effects and wear-and-tear of a long career as a horse jockey. He's had numerous successes and is a lauded professional in his sport, even though time itself has narrowed the gap and is slowly winning out. He's developed a great friendship with horse trainer Ruth (Molly Parker) and when Gabriel (Moises Arias), a young talented but inexperienced jockey shows up, Jackson sees an opportunity to pass along his knowledge and experience instead of letting it die along with him.
In a turn (that happens in the first 20 minutes, so hardly a spoiler), Gabriel confesses that he's been showing up on Jackson's racing circuit because he believes that Jackson is his father. So there's that.
While "Jockey" lacks the overall "oomph" to make it stand-out among the pack, it does contain some great dialogue and sporadic moments of truth. There is a "Nomadland"-like realism in "Jockey," where many of these "actors" don't seem like actors at all, but real people that live and breathe this dust-filled, thankless world.
It's a character study at its heart, and there is a lot of heart to go around. But much like its subject, it takes some time to let it reveal itself. All in all, "Jockey" is worth the ride if not just to see Clifton Collins Jr. and Molly Parker give passionate performances, but it never reaches greatness as a drama, nor as a sports film. Like Jackson Silva, you get the feeling that "Jockey" doesn't reach it's fullest potential, but you root for it straight out of the gate and all the way down the line.
Genre: Drama, Sports.
Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes.
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Moises Arias, Molly Parker.
Co-Written and Directed by Clint Bentley (feature-film directorial debut).
"Jockey" is in theaters on Friday, February 4th, 2022.
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