The Film (4.5/5)
In a small prairie town in France, a country music festival is shaken up by the sudden disappearance of the Balland’s family 16-year-old girl. Was she kidnapped, murdered, a runaway? No one knows, but the father Alain (Francois Damiens) and brother Georges (Finnegan Oldfield) are stopping at nothing to find her. As the search goes on, The Balland family is torn apart and the grief starts to reach maximum levels. Can they find the girl, or is the search useless?
LES COWBOYS (2015) is a hard movie to watch at times, that is both a return to classical western stories and a fresh take on a “Road movie” by writer turned Director Thomas Bidegain (A PROPHET, RUST AND BONE). Without spoiling too much, this movie is basically an update of John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS, with tonal and visual styles of Wim Wender’s epic, PARIS, TEXAS. The journey starts in 1994, and slowly creeps past the events of 9/11, which kick starts a new chapter in the story. The central story deals with Alain and George as they spent their days hoping for new clues to come to light. Tensions rise as Alain becomes more unstable. But what makes LES COWBOYS so thrilling is how unexpected it really is.
Throughout the journey the two main characters are thrown into new levels of Hell. Trips to hospitals, bad leads, and finally into war unrest Pakistan. Half way into the movie it takes a sudden shift. So while the first 45 minutes play out in a fast, almost TAKEN pace. The second half slows down as the Journey now seems worthless. While mostly a France set movie with French characters, LES COWBOYS looks and feels like a John Ford movie with its massive vistas and emotionally huge characters. The film’s hypnotic score by Mortiz Reich is perfectly matched to the images and adds to the haunting quality. One of the movie’s most tragic and beautiful scenes is a car crash set to Tennessee Waltz.
Francois Damiens (OSS 117: CARIO, NEST OF SPIES) is simply magnificent as Alain. The quiet intensity in his eyes is both tragic and horrifying. Finnegan Oldfield (BANG GANG, A MODERN LOVE STORY) is just as spot on as the older Georges. Understated and yet highly emotional, He gets some the films best scenes including a very intense beating. John C Reilly (MAGNOLIA, WRECK IT RALPH) has a small but important role as a sleazy American character in the middle east. Given his little screen time, Reilly still leaves a huge impression.
Audio/ Video (4.5/5)
This Disc comes with two main audio tracks. First up is the DTS-HD Master Audio French track. This track will sound spindled with a nice surround sound system. The second is the 5.1 Channel French audio. I prefer this track. It’s more streamlined and leveled if your viewing it on a normal TV. The track sounds wonderful and the movie is mixed with languages. Also heard and sometimes subtitled for story sake is English, Arabic, Flemish, and Pashto. Both tracks come with the easy to read English subtitles.
LES COWBOYS comes with a gorgeous and finely detailed 1080p HD transfer. The transfer is full of life, with rich colors, smooth black levels, and crystal clear image. The amount of detail on display makes the movie pure eye candy, and this transfer enhances the experience.
The main extra is a 34 minute making of Documentary. The Documentary is full of interviews and behind the scenes footage. Director Bidegain goes over some of his major influences and the cast seem excited about the finished product. The film’s theatrical trailer is also included. Rounding out the set is a small booklet of film info and production stills.
LES COWBOYS is a cold drama, that is at times very hard to stomach and watch. But everything is near pitch perfect. The cast, score, story and picturesque locations make this a proud member of the Road movie genre. Unpredictable and full of emotion, I found LES COWBOYS deeply satisfying. Cohen gives the movie a very handsome release. Highly Recommended.