FIN REVIEW: Understated Jockey a yearning portrayal of working-class labours of love

Jockey stepped onto the scene at the Sundance Film Festival, rallying to rave reviews and a pickup by distributor Sony Pictures Classics.

At FIN, it will be known this year as the movie that didn’t spring for show and sparkle, but rallied into my heart anyway.

Just like its main character Jackson, this film finds comfort in the working-class levels of the horse-racing industry it portrays. Jackson has toiled for years in the lower echelons, a sturdy racer who has inflicted intense pain on his body in the name of the sport he loves.

When his longtime trainer comes with a special horse that could win it all, the veteran Jackson wants his swan song to be a win.

But he’s hiding parts of his life and health, and crossing that finish line may just break him. Meanwhile, a younger jockey reveals he is Jackson’s son, and the two form an unlikely bond.

This film lives and dies with Clifton Collins Jr., who like Jackson has been unrecognized and lived in the supporting shadows of the film industry for too long. At 51, Collins Jr. is finally getting his due with this film.

A part of Oscar films and hit shows like Westworld, Traffic, and Capote, he’s the character actor you can always depend on but never get entirely familiar with. Now, with Jockey, he gives an Oscar-worthy performance that’s impossible to forget.

Molly Parker is divine here, and young Moises Arias are fantastic. Arias, who starred in FIN Extreme triumph Monos two years ago, really comes into his own here. There’s a quiet, electric current underlying his scenes with Collins Jr. that will jolt your emotions.

Writer-director Clint Bentley makes one heck of an emotional drama, and one can only hope Clifton Collins Jr. is recognized for the star he truly is after this magnificent effort.

4/5 Stars

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