Thursday, April 30, 2020

Movie with Abe: Bull

Directed by Annie Silverstein
Released May 1, 2020

A bond with an animal can have a truly transformative effect on a person. Those who act out and have trouble fitting in with society may behave completely differently when they’re with a pet, or, even more powerfully, an animal that they take care of and train for a particular purpose. A commitment to a sport or activity that requires cooperation and communication with something other than a human can ground and redirect the energy of someone who has a history of not playing well with others, and can reframe the way they approach every aspect of their life.

Kris (Amber Havard) is fourteen years old and living in Texas with her grandmother. Regular visits to see her mother in prison are not enough to prevent her from having plenty of anger to express, which manifests itself when she trashes the home of her curmudgeonly neighbor Abe (Rob Morgan). To make up for what she has done, Kris begins helping the aging bullfighter, first simply with tasks around the house and then learning from him at the rodeo. As the allure of a new passion calls, Kris finds that it isn’t so easy to rid herself of the pervasive influences that still remain in her old life.

This film is a quiet, intimate drama, one that features two equally lonely, malcontent people who are at opposite points in their lives. Abe’s glory days are behind him, and he knows that his body is longer in the same condition his mind is, prohibiting him from fully appreciating and enjoying his time. Kris is well aware of the circumstances that landed her mother in prison and that the groups she runs with and the situation she is in may well send her down that same path. Their connection allows them both to experience something they didn’t expect and that wouldn’t be possible without the perspectives and energies that they bring.

Actress Amber Havard makes an astounding debut as this troubled teenage protagonist, and she’s well-matched by Morgan, a familiar face from films like “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and “Just Mercy” and the TV series “This Is Us.” Together, they anchor a moderately familiar story made to feel fresh in this strong first feature film from director Annie Silverstein. After a premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and a cancelled showing at this year’s SXSW, this worthwhile drama will be available tomorrow on VOD.


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