Film Review: Jockey

STUDIO: Sony Pictures Classics | DIRECTOR: Clint Bentley | CAST: Clifton Collins Jr., Moisés Arias, Molly Parker, Marlon St. Julien
SPECS: R | 94 min. | Drama

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Over the last few years, jockeys and horse trainers have been a common focus in the movies. We’ve had such efforts as Lean on Pete, The Mustang and The Rider centering on the equine world, each enjoying a fair degree of success.

Clifton Collins, Jr. and Molly Parker in Jockey

Now comes Jockey, a quiet, meditative study of a rider dealing with aging and a sudden surprise that affects his life. The rider is Jackson (Clifton Collins, Jr., Nightmare Alley) , a tough but solemn veteran of the track who is unsure of what lies in his future. He keeps associates at a distance, counting Ruth (Molly Parker, TV’s House of Cards), a horse owner, as one of his closest confidantes. Then, the 19-year-old Gabriel (Moises Arias, The King of Staten Island) enters his life, showing a great interest in becoming a jockey himself. Oh, yes: The kid also claims to be Jackson’s son, a notion Jackson immediately rejects.

The potentially highly dramatic situations that arise are handled in an understated fashion by co-writer and debuting director Clint Bentley. Jockey remains interesting to watch with some impressive cinematography capturing the real-life goings-on behind at the scenes at racetracks in Arizona. Collins, a reliable character presence in movies and TV for years, gets a rare starring opportunity here. He’s undeniably impressive in his low-key performance as he carries the weathered look of a man past his prime while trying to figure out the meaning of where he’s been and where he’s going.

Feted at a few major film festivals over the last year, Jockey has been lauded for keeping a sturdy and steady stride throughout.  Unfortunately, it never kicks in dramatically. By film’s end, you realize that as a character study, it doesn’t reveal much character and leaves you wanting more and  wishing the filmmaker would have pushed a little harder as they approached the finish line.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.