Performances in ‘The Mustang’ have the sharp tang of authenticity

Matthias Schoenaerts stars as a convict who bonds with a mustang while serving out his prison time in the Nevada desert. 

Focus Features/AP
Matthias Schoenaerts in a scene from "The Mustang."

The background for “The Mustang,” starring Matthias Schoenaerts, is a federal government program in which, to control overpopulation, several hundred wild stallions are periodically rounded into holding facilities and trained by prison inmates for sale at public auctions. This might seem like a fairly unpromising setting for a movie, but this debut feature by Laure de Clermont-Tonnere is a solid, if somewhat predictable, drama about a convict, Schoenaerts’ Roman Coleman, who bonds with a mustang while serving out his prison time in the Nevada desert. 

The director has a good eye for semidocumentary detail, and the performances, which also include Bruce Dern as a veteran trainer, Gideon Adlon as Roman’s estranged daughter, and especially Jason Mitchell as a fellow inmate and trick rider, all have the sharp tang of authenticity. Grade: B+ (Rated R for language, some violence, and drug content.)

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