The movie definitely had its moments, but it ended up collapsing under its own cinematic weight.
Les Cowboys, directed by Thomas Bidagain, is a “R” rated French film with subtitles. Though several actors speak English, subtitles were clearly required as the camera followed its characters through France, Belgium, Denmark and Pakistan.
Though this is a challenging film, the story repeatedly gets bogged down. Beginning in 1994, François Damiens and Agathe Dronne are the French parents of two teenagers. Their son is a hardworking student who idolizes his father, though the family is left in a living nightmare when their daughter, Kelly, suddenly disappears from home. Given that she is 16, the parents torment is increased when they get word that she has run off to an unknown location with a young Muslim boy.
Despite receiving word that the young girl does not want to return home, her father engages in a desperate journey to find her. In the process, a good man dances on the edge of madness as he becomes consumed by desperation, love and anger.
When father meets an unfortunate end, his son Georges picks up the pursuit. Much more kind and appealing than his dad, the young son ends up in Pakistan where he hooks up with an English underworld character played by John C. Reilly. With the film now focusing on a time shortly after the collapse of the Twin Towers in Manhattan on 9/11, the only real question facing Georges is whether he can escape Pakistan alive.
The film attempts to examine the quagmire that consumed many countries in 2001. Many Europeans distrusted Muslims even if they were fellow citizens, and any attempt to retrieve a young French girl living consensually with a Muslim husband was bound to cause massive unrest on both sides.
Quite frankly, the atmosphere of the film reflects what is going on in the world today. If politicians like Donald Trump are going to engage in a shameful attempt to hold all Muslim’s accountable for the reprehensible conduct of anyone whose heritage takes them to the Middle East, why don’t they condemn the American military given that two ex-soldiers are responsible for killing police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge? Put another way, to blame all Muslims for the actions of an irresponsible few is no less reprehensible than blaming all police officers for the actions of their colleagues who recently killed 2 black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. Trump and his supporters must be reminded quickly that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed to all Americans regardless of their occupation or religion.
In the end, I admired what Director Bidagain attempted to accomplish with his film, but he left too many powerful questions unanswered.