Concrete Cowboy is a new Netflix film that is garnering great success among both specialized critics and audiences. Concrete Cowboy joins other titles from the streaming service with a powerful message about individual responsibility, such as Hillbilly Elegy or The Incredible Story of The Rose Island.
Based on Greg Neri’s novel Ghetto Cowboy, Concrete Cowboy tells in fictionalized form the true story of the century-old Urban Riding Club on Fletcher Street in Philadelphia, a non-profit organization run by black people that encourages local youth to take charge of horses and stables, thus giving them a healthy and enriching alternative for their free time.
While the plot of the film’s father and son protagonists is fictionalized, many of the supporting characters are played by the stables’ own parishioners, giving the film an air of realism that at times makes you think you’re watching a documentary.
Concrete Cowboy revolves around the character of Cole, a 15-year-old black boy living in Detroit with his mother, who is always getting into trouble at school. When he is expelled, his mother, helpless and worried about the path her son is taking, decides to take him all the way to Philadelphia to abandon him on the doorstep of his father Harp’s house, who has been absent throughout his son’s life.
His father, who in the past had drug problems and served time in jail, now devotes his life to caring for horses at the urban stables on Fletcher Street and even has a horse living in his own home, with whom Cole has to share a room.
Cole resents his father and is disgusted with his lifestyle. After futilely trying to contact his mother to return to the comfort of his home, he meets his older cousin Smush, who takes him out partying and tries to introduce him to the drug dealing business.
His father, seeing that he is going to repeat the same mistakes he made in his past, forbids him from hanging out with his cousin and forces him to work in the stables to straighten out his life. Although he continues to sneak around with his cousin Smush, Cole begins to feel attracted to the life and culture of the urban cowboys.
Despite the iron discipline – or rather because of it – he notices how he enjoys working in the stables, feels connected to the honest people who work there, and begins to form a strong bond with a horse that no one has yet managed to tame.
Cole gradually learns the lessons of his new life. He realizes that the horses have helped many troubled people get ahead and, most of all, he sees how badly his cousin Smush has turned because of giving his back to the horses’ life.
Concrete Cowboy and its strong message of individual responsibility
Concrete Cowboy has fantastic cinematography and features great performances by Idris Elba – victim of ridiculous accusations by the woke horde and the BBC’s head of diversity because they consider that the character he plays in the series Luther dresses and behaves like a white man – and, above all, that of actor Caleb McLaughlin, who with his solid performance in this film makes you forget that he is one of the kids in the series Stranger Things.
But above all, Concrete Cowboy stands out for its powerful message about individual responsibility. Despite dealing with African-American social issues, the film does not engage in the hackneyed message of victimization, nor does it blame all problems on racism. The film makes it clear that what matters in life are the choices individuals make when facing vicissitudes, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.
Concrete Cowboy does not follow the progressive narrative of structural racism and bravely addresses the problem of how detrimental to parenting is the absence of a father figure to show by example what the right choices are.
It is also appreciated that it does not portray the government as a savior, nor does it claim aid and subsidies. What it shows is that far from providing solutions, what the government does is generate problems, when the animal control authorities pretend to close the stables based on stupid regulations.
Concrete Cowboy, if anything, is asking the government to get out of the way, and allow them to continue on their way on the backs of their horses, in order to continue the excellent social work of the Urban Riding Club of Fletcher Street in Philadelphia.