In a French community obsessed with country and western a teenage girl runs of with her Islamic boyfriend. In a haze of suspicious and xenophobia the girl’s father (François Damiens) fears the worst and embarks on fruitless trips across numerous countries with his son Kid (Finnegan Oldfield) in tow in search of the missing young woman. As the years pass Kid becomes disillusioned with the hunt and stay at home leaving his father to pursue his sister alone.
This first chapter of the film comes across as a decent thriller with a desperate father on the hunt for his daughter. I was expecting some conspiracy to be uncovered and for the father to come out victorious in a manner that would make Liam Neeson proud. This does not happen. Instead this section of the film comes to an abrupt end and we jump forward a few more years.
Now our focus is on Kid who is working for what I assume was an aid agency in Asia. Here Kid quite literally stumbles across the path of John C. Reilly playing some kind of evangelical human trafficker. Naturally Reilly’s American wanderer thinks he might know where Kid’s sister might be and so the two embark on an adventure across the desert and into a rough urban landscape. After some dramatic moments we head back to France and jump forward a few years. Again.
Having had the thriller and the action adventure Cowboys ends with a shorter chapter more along the lines of an emotional drama. One that neatly brings the story to a close and ties together loose threads in a neat, not necessarily satisfactory bow. With that the film is done. The plot of the film having chopped and changed numerous times we finally reach some sort of conclusion.
Each of the three chunks of the film are well made with tonally appropriate direction and fine acting but the three sections don’t sit well when sat flush against each other. The tone of the film kept changing which made for a jarring experience and no individual chapter got the proper resolution they deserved; as soon as something got interesting it would abruptly stop so we could move a few more years down the line.
Cowboys is by no means a terrible experience but is too uneven to be a great watch.
Cowboys screens the festival on the 15th and 16th October and tickets are still available online.