Hard-hitting drama Cowboys explores the story of a parents’ divide concerning their child’s gender identity. Joe (Sasha Knight), born female but identifying as male, comes out to his father Troy (Steve Zahn), who is accepting of Joe’s decision and actively encourages him to express himself in the way he feels comfortable and wants to be. Joe’s mother Sally (Jillian Bell) is completely against the idea and simply thinks he is a tomboy and blames Troy for exposing him to the cowboy lifestyle. After an altercation between Sally’s brother and Troy, Troy is sent to prison. On his exit from the facility, he decides to take things into his own hands and takes Joe with him on a journey through the wilderness towards the Canadian border so they can be together, and start a new life.
Director Anna Kerrigan impresses with this indie drama, which is only the second feature film under her belt. Not only has she crafted a brilliant screenplay that explores a social issue of gender identity within young people and the stigma that leaves, Kerrigan has made a well rounded family drama that is one of best independent films of the year.
What impresses most is the courage and accuracy with which Kerrigan portrays a story like this. Her decision to use a trans actor is to be commended and sets the standard that should be in all films going forward. Allowing Sasha Knight, a trans youth actor to play the role is how it should be. The decision has been praised by all outlets from the community and with this authenticity in the film, it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the story knowing its being told properly.
Talking of acting, the film debut by Sasha Knight is a brilliant one. The coming out scene between Joe and his Dad, Troy is a deeply moving scene in the film. Knowing that Sasha went through that experience personally made it all that more emotional when watching it. Alongside Sasha’s performance, you have the great Steve Zahn who gives a commanding performance as Troy. In addition to this, you have Jillian Bell, who has worked mostly on comedy projects such as 22 Jump Street and Bill & Ted Face The Music, turns on her dramatic side and gives her best performance to date.
Cowboys is one of the best films to be released in the UK this year. Boasting an impressive ensemble cast that all pull their weight to carry this wonderful story across its finishing line. It’s a film that knows when to pull the punches and bring a tear to the eye. The film deserves to be seen when it’s released.
Cowboys is on Curzon Home Cinema and digital download 7 May