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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Demonstrates power of mustang training program and positive effects it can have on violent convicts. It's wonderful problem-solving and promotes compassion and understanding.
Positive Role Models
While Roman is too violent to be considered a role model, head trainer Myles is notable for showing kindness, compassion, understanding to the convicts; he treats them sternly but also as human beings.
Violence & Scariness
A man loses his temper, punches a horse. A man is struck by a horse; bloody face. Character is stabbed; his body twitches, oozing blood. Fight between two men includes punching, a choke hold. Angry shouting. Spoken story about a man beating his wife, breaking her skull. Scary sequence in noisy, dark room (men rescue horses from violent storm). Man bucked off horse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Shirtless men in shower scene. Brief sex-related dialogue (a scenario about a partner caught kissing another person).
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Multiple uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--k," "hell," "bitch," "ass," "goddamn," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Ketamine is stolen by being squirted onto clothing: The clothing is wrung out, and the drug is heated up and snorted.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Mustang is a drama about a violent prisoner (Matthias Schoenaerts) who finds redemption after learning how to train a wild horse. It's a simple, soulful movie that promotes compassion and is gently told, but it also has many mature moments. Violence can be strong and shocking: A character loses his temper and punches a horse, a character is viciously stabbed (his body twitches, and blood oozes out of the wound), and a character is thrown from and stomped by a horse (his bloody face is shown). There's also fighting, angry shouting, a spoken story about a man beating up his wife, and a scary sequence during a storm. Language is also very salty, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. The drug ketamine is stolen and prepared, and someone snorts it. Men shower shirtless, and there's very brief sex-related dialogue. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This horse drama doesn't break any new ground, but it's a simple, soulful movie that's told gently, and all the pieces fit together with beauty and grace. Actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) makes her feature directing debut with The Mustang, which is based on a real program that exists in certain states and reportedly has a strong track record in rehabilitating prisoners. The movie provides a handful of written notes about the program at the beginning and ending, freeing the film to concentrate on its ebb and flow rather than a need to hammer home big messages.
The Mustang has the feel of a familiar old Western, with some vaguely underdeveloped minor elements, but with new life breathed into it. Light is used vividly, especially beaming through windows into the tiny prison cells. The exterior shots are beautifully sun-dappled but also chilly, perfectly capturing the juxtaposition between fury and tranquility in both human and horse. Schoenaerts is part of what makes the movie work so well, with his fearsome frame that's unpredictable and explosive and his soft, expressive eyes. Even though he commits a scene of shocking violence against the animal, it's possible to eventually forgive him. Best of all is Dern, a cranky old-timer straight out of a John Wayne movie, but with his heart in the right place.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.