Concrete Cowboy Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“Urban Cowboy” / Concrete Cowboy

Drama genre
Directed by Ricky Staub
Cast Caleb McLaughlin (Cole), Idris Elba (Harp), Jarrel Jerome (Smoosh), Byron Bowers (Rum), Lorraine Toussaint (Nessie), Clifford Smith (Leroy), Devin Young (Trina) and others.
Студии Green Door Pictures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, Neighborhood Film Co.
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

The film stars Caleb McLaughlin, the oldest and one of the funniest actors in the Stranger Things children’s cast. It looks like McLaughlin is ready to go further, expand genre boundaries and share the screen with older and more experienced artists. In “Urban Cowboy” Caleb worked with Idris Elba, who played his father, and also acted as a producer of the picture.

The film shows a teenager Cole, who is kicked out of school after another fight, and his mother brings him to his father in Philadelphia. Cole doesn’t really know anything about his parent, besides the fact that the man keeps a horse right in the living room and doesn’t like to engage in long conversations. Unwilling to accept the new reality, Cole contacts a childhood friend who offers easy drug money. Along with this, the guy begins to learn the details of the life of the local cowboy community, where his father suddenly reveals himself as a sociable and caring person.

Urban Cowboy is an example of independent cinema, so the standard relationship between a rebellious teenager and a silent father unable to express his feelings is revealed without Hollywood sentimentality. True, there is still a sensitive scene in the film where the character of Idris Elba finally speaks to his child, putting a record with the music of saxophonist John Coltrane in the background of an important conversation, which turns out to be a small but important detail from the past.

Otherwise, the director of the film, Ricky Staub (who previously directed short robots), devotes time not to family ties, but to life within the community. It is noteworthy that it will not be embellished with edited shots with a beautiful ride on horseback, the hero will have to learn how to clean up the stall (and here the scenes that are often turned into comical episodes in films are filmed from a harsh angle), but only after getting into the saddle.

What’s more, the handicapped man who teaches Caleb McLaughlin’s character the practical skills of horsemanship is a real cowboy who shares his real story woven into the script. And the whole film, in essence, is devoted to the artistic retelling of the realities of the riders from Philadelphia.


According to Time, “Urban Cowboy” depicts a history of makeshift stables that are unfamiliar anywhere but Philadelphia’s Fletcher Street. It is there that black riders hold on to the traditions of their 20th-century southern ancestors who migrated north in search of work. They adapted locally, grazing or delivering food on carts and wagons. Over time, technology replaced the need to keep horses, but riding clubs remained in the city, which exist to this day thanks to volunteers.

Now both the club’s guests and young people come there, who find an alternative pastime, while criminal showdowns take place in the nearest areas (the creators of the film report this quite clearly through the path of the protagonist, as well as through brief interviews of real cowboys filed after the end of the film).

And that’s not all, drama director Ricky Staub is trying to add to the script the pressing problem of black cowboys – the inevitable gentrification of the area in which the stables are located. The planned redevelopment of city blocks is destroying the community, for which there is less and less space where it is possible to keep horses. Old properties are being destroyed, and the animals are being taken to the veterinarians, supposedly worried about their condition (exactly like in scenes from the movie).

There are indeed many central themes in Urban Cowboy, and the director, with his unhurried manner of shooting, does not cope with all of them. The protagonist is torn between the commune where he regains his father and his childhood friend, but the final focus is not his feelings, but the city agenda, referring to the problems of Fletcher Street.

After watching, one more drama comes to mind about the specifics of the life of a certain group of people living by their own social rules – the film Nomadland. However, “Urban Cowboy” loses to her directorial work and the ability to position the viewer for simple characters.

Pluses: the first notable role of Caleb McLaughlin in a big movie; the scenario is based on the life and problems of a real community; city ​​scenes with horses Cons: too many main themes that crowd each other out Conclusion:

an independent film about the life of black cowboys, which the viewer learns about together with the actor from the TV series Stranger Things.

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