“Mustang”, a violent film directed by a charming young woman

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Matthias Schoenaerts plays Roman, the prisoner who lives again thanks to his horse Marquis

It’s called “Mustang” in the US and “Nevada” in France, but this is the same film, on the relationship between Mustang horses in Nevada and prisoners. Laure de Clermont Tonnerre is the young director (35) who won Robert Redford’s support at the Sundance festival and was able to produce this amazing fresco of horse therapy for violent prisoners . I heard about it on France Culture radio at 8 am, went to see it at 3.30 pm and was happy to see that the theatre was almost full in the middle of the afternoon. This could well be the surprise success of the month!

After an acting career, Laure de Clermont Tonnerre, 35,  has researched, cowritten and directed “Mustang”

One is both terrified and fascinated by the character of Roman, a long term prisoner who killed his wife twelve year ago and has since become silent. The film opens on a therapist who tries to understand where to place him in the prison working programs. After cleaning horse shit for days, he becomes attracted to a wild Mustang whom he will later name Marquis, after the Marquis de la Bigne, a French aristocrat who, in the 18 th century, invented  a way of taming horses.

With his daughter in the prison parloir

The film is fantastically cast with Bruce Dern as the old trainer of horses and prisoners alike. Thomas Smittle, an Indian from Oregon, is acting there for the first time. There is true western style violence and the scene when the horses are rounded by helicopters is very obsessive. The wild Mustangs are caught, tamed and later sold to the police for their rounds on the border. Such prisons actually exist where a program of horse therapy takes place. One of the first strong scene is with Connie Britton who plays the prison therapist. She is beautifully filmed by Ruben Impens, the Belgian cinematographer.

Laure admits to having been obsessed by prison and punishment since she was a child. Her parents, Antoine and Martine de Clermont Tonnerre, both worked in the movie industry and she was accustomed to being on sets for many years. As a child actor and as an observer. Her mother even makes an appearance at the horse auction at the end…which is led with maestria by Gregory Williams who shouts like a real auctioneer!

Jason Mitchell and Roman Coleman are both fantastic actors

This film has been five years in the writing and was born at the Sundance Lab where Laure was a laureate after showing her previous work, “Rabbit” a short film, dedicated to a rabbit calming a French woman prisoner.  This movie is a masterpiece and the contrast between the internment in prison and the wide wild Rocky Mountain landscapes is fascinating. it was largely promoted by Robert Redford and deserves it entirely.

Nevada in all movie theaters.

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