Shadow and Act has the exclusive premiere of Netflix’s highly-anticipated upcoming film, Concrete Cowboy.
Dispelling the myth that cowboys only exist in the south or out west, North Philadelphia has had a vibrant Black cowboy subculture on its city streets for years. This particular subset is the focus of Concrete Cowboy, based on the nonfiction book, Ghetto Cowboy, by G. Neri. Helmed by Ricky Staub, looks to add history and context to this culture, while placing a father-son story at the center of the narrative. The film stars Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin alongside Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, Cliff “Method Man” Smith.
As the description reads:
When fifteen-year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is expelled from school in Detroit, he is sent to North Philadelphia to live with Harp (Idris Elba), his estranged father. Harp finds solace in rehabilitating horses for inner city cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables, a real-life black urban horsemanship community that has provided a safe haven for the neighborhood residents for more than 100 years. Torn between his growing respect for his father’s community and his reemerging friendship with troubled cousin Smush (Jharrel Jerome), Cole begins to reprioritize his life as the stables themselves are threatened by encroaching gentrification.
Real-life members of the Fletcher Street Riders appear in the film. Staub, who is from Philadelphia and also co-wrote the film, and co-writer Dan Walser, conducted two years worth of research to build relationships and get to know the community in order to authentically tell their story. The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club has existed for many years, and today, the group works with the youth in the community to help them stay on. the right track.
In the film, the father and son pair have a frosty relationship. Cole doesn’t really know his father like that, and on the other hand, Harp is cognizant of the damages that his past mistakes have had on his son. However, Harp does not approve of Cole’s relationship with his cousin, knowing that it would only bring him trouble. In the spirit of community, Cole finds a nurturing figure in next-door neighbor Nessi (Lorraine Toussaint) and reluctantly agrees to tend to the stables, inadvertently landing in a situation where he gets a horse of his own. It’s a learning curve for him to get adjusted to the menial tasks, but. as he sets in, he forms orming a quick bond with his horse and finding his own spot in the Fletcher Street community. Though Harp’s not a talker, but he and Cole find a way to communicate through caring for the horses.
Overall, there’s a dichotomy between the stables and the larger environment: the concrete streets and the grass on which they graze. This is also evident in Cole’s own two worlds tugging at him: the stables vs. the lifestyle Smush can provide. And the father-son relationship at the center sets the stage for forgiveness as Cole comes of age and Harp comes of fatherhood.
Watch the trailer below:
The film, produced by Tucker Tooley, Lee Daniels, Idris Elba, Dan Walser, Jeff Waxman and Jennifer Madeloff, will drop on Netflix Apr. 2.