Jockey is a sports drama that is purposely light on action and heavy on character study. It’s more trot than sprint. More arty than mainstream. Get the picture?

The film follows aging jockey Jackson Silva (Clifton Collins Jr.) as he chases one last hurrah on a potential championship horse acquired by his longtime trainer– and maybe more— Ruth (Molly Parker). Decades of rough riding have taken a toll on Jackson’s body, and it’s probably time to hang up the spurs. But horse racing is in his blood; it’s his entire world. At least, until a young rookie rider named Gabriel (Moises Arias) shows up, claiming to be his son. Jackson takes Gabriel under his wing and teaches him some tricks of the trade. It’s a bittersweet bond, with implications both personal and professional.

Jockey marks the feature film debut of director Clint Bentley who also wrote the screenplay. As the son of a jockey himself, Bentley grew up in the very world he’s spotlighting– the world behind the track. This is not an underdog horse or racing movie where myriad horses run neck and neck to the finish line, kicking up dirt along the way. No budget for that! It’s a quiet film bathed in shadows, shot primarily in that last hour before sunset. A metaphor for the man in the sunset of his career.

The film was shot on a live racetrack in Arizona and features real jockeys shooting the breeze and comparing injuries with the Jackson character. The film certainly feels true to the culture and reminded me to some degree of the 2018 indie darling The Rider, about a real rodeo cowboy. Jockey is not as compelling a watch as The Rider was, but the performances are solid and the film does pull back the curtain on a world we rarely see in sports movies. It’s primarily for the indie crowd, and horse lovers. No need to see it on the big screen, but certainly worth considering when it hits the streamers.

Jockey opened in limited release in late December and is rolling out in more theaters over the next few weeks.

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