Recently released to digital is the LGBTQ+ drama, Cowboys. The film – written and directed by Anna Kerrigan – stars Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell, Sasha Knight and Ann Dowd, and tells the story of an 11-year-old transgender child named Joe, who is kidnapped by his father and taken into the American wilderness.
In the movie, Joe is a boy born into a female body. During his early years he is brought up as a girl, but he knows deep down that this is not who he should be.
After some soul searching, Joe explains the truth to his father, Troy. Troy is quick to get his head around the situation and becomes very supportive of his son, but the same can’t be said for Joe’s mother, Sally.
Sally is dismissive of Joe’s situation and continues to view her child as a girl. This makes Joe’s transition much harder to deal with, and over time, tensions mount between the two.
The relationship between Sally and Troy also deteriorates and following a spell in prison – a result of Troy stepping in to protect his son from potential harm – the couple split up. Sally gains custody of Joe, but does allow Troy visiting privileges.
Pleased that he is still able to see his son, Troy regularly visits his son, but during their time together he can see that Joe is unable to live life to the fullest. So, in a moment of rashness, Troy ‘kidnaps’ Joe, so they can both live a new life together over the Canadian border.
Going into this movie I knew next-to-nothing about Cowboys. I had a vague idea what the movie was about, but pretty much everything came to me fresh.
I believe my lack of prior knowledge over this movie is because Cowboys has largely flown under the radar. COVID-19 got in the way of its original release plans back in 2020, and its arrival on streaming services in 2021, at a time when everyone is preparing for an influx of huge blockbusters, has meant it has fallen through the cracks.
So, there is a good chance that you are reading this review having not even viewed a trailer for this film. Well, if that is the case, then I hope you will believe in my words and give it 90-minutes of your time, because Cowboys is a captivating piece of filmmaking, beautifully shot and not to be missed.
Told through an extensive use of flashbacks, the film explores the full details of why the ‘kidnapping’ takes place. It delves into the relationship between the three central characters, with Joe’s journey at the heart of the story.
But Joe isn’t the only character to go on a journey in this movie – Troy and Sally also have much ground to cover. Neither is a bad parent, despite how they handle Joe’s situation, they are simply misguided and this is something which they need to learn from.
In fact, the point of the story is that they have to learn how best to deal with their mistakes, to ensure they do right by Joe. The message of Cowboys is about growth and understanding; about finding new ways to move forward; and about changing viewpoints.
This is a small-scale story, but one which mixes domestic drama with elements of a Western. It features great performances from its core cast, in particular from Steve Zahn and Sasha Knight, who bring both a warmth and likeability to their respective characters.
The relationship between Troy and Joe is a joy to watch and something that becomes the real backbone of the picture. It is a positive pairing, in what is also a largely positive movie.
Sure, there’s some heartache and drama along the way, but that’s life – it’s never easy. The important thing is that things do get better, and this becomes a key element of this story.
I really like Cowboys and believe it to be a solid film. As mentioned above, this movie has quietly slipped out this month, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.
If you wish to check it out (and you should), the movie is now available to buy from all major digital platforms, including Amazon, Chili, and iTunes. It is also available to rent from Curzon Home Cinema, with other rental options opening up towards the end of the month, so there are no excuses not to give it a watch.