Les Cowboys (2015) Poster

(2015)

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7/10
A film about fear, despair and obsession
rubenm13 December 2015
What makes young people from France or Belgium abandon everything, including their family, convert to Islam and travel to a strange country to lead a life filled with religion and old-fashioned values? It's a very urgent question, now that several western-born boys and even girls have decided to become jihadi's and fight in Syria.

The French film 'Lew Cowboys' is about such a girl. She doesn't travel to Syria, neither does she engage in violence, but she disappears suddenly with her Muslim boyfriend, leaving her father, mother and brother behind in fear and despair.

Her father decides to devote his life to the search for his daughter. For several years, he tries to follow every trace that can lead him to his daughter Kelly. Het becomes so obsessed that he risks his job, his marriage and eventually his life in order to find his daughter. Later on, the same goes for Kelly's brother.

The desperate search leads father and son from one shady informer to another. They follow traces in France, Belgium and Pakistan. The authorities soon give up the quest for the disappeared teenager, but thanks to their tenacity and some luck, the father and brother have enough clues to continue the search.

The quest is filmed in a neutral style, not providing a moral judgment of the girl's behaviour, but concentrating instead on the father's despair and the brother's obsession. The story is spread out over several decades, with the terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid and London providing some indication of the time frame in which several scenes take place. The film's bottom line is a bleak one: when you spend your life searching for something, finding it in the end can be a bitter disappointment.
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8/10
More Background Please
dansview21 January 2017
I loved the picture. Especially the idea of French people having American Country Western cookouts in the French countryside. Does that really happen? Or was the western thing supposed to be consistent with The Searchers, the movie people here say this movie took after? Anyways, since the movie is about people's 15 year search for a daughter/sister, I would have liked to see some scenes showing what she was like at home, or why they cherished her, beyond blood. Instead we never hear a single word from her.

We do see the dad dancing with her, and apparently adoring her by the way he looks at her. But then the search isn't necessarily about love. When something or someone of yours goes missing or is taken, you want it back. There is pride involved.

In the case of the brother, it may have involved his need to carry on his dad's search. Maybe he was honoring his dad, more than trying to find a sister that didn't even want to be found.

Either way, it all wound up pointless, without spoiling anything. Perhaps that was what was so French about it. The existential conclusion.

I think they threw in the American actor to attract American viewers. It probably worked, although I don't think this thing made money. The photography is beautiful, the performances are right on target, and the political aspect is barely touched upon.

Perhaps the girl did what she did out of love, or the need for an identity. We will never know, because we didn't see enough about her home life. Although clearly her parents were loving and responsible people.

The performances of the dad and brother kept me in this. I felt their anxiety and was rooting for them. The grittiness was just enough without going over the top.
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7/10
The Epic Story of Civilizations Colliding
gregsmart14 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I caught this movie at the Toronto International Film Fest and quite liked it. It's the kind of movie that sticks with you for a few days after you watch it. I don't think it's meant to be a remake of The Searchers as some reviewers have posited, except in the fact that it follows a families search for their daughter, who has converted to Islam and run away from home.

The plot is a generational epic that follows the story of a French family torn apart in degrees by the departure and search for their daughter. Over the course of the film, the protagonist changes, refreshingly breaking from formulaic Hollywood precedents. The first leg of the film follows the father, who is obsessive and ego- centric in his search for his daughter. The second part of the film follows his son as he picks up the quest and demonstrates that that the sins of the father are not always visited upon the son.

Thematically, the story is built around the idea of contemporary Europe and the Muslim world being a clash of civilizations, much like the cowboys and indians. It is not a classic Western by any stretch, but thematic and aesthetic elements are there to get across the comparison.

All in all, I thought it was a beautiful and ultimately hopeful movie... worth a watch.
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8/10
Blinding, Relentless Pursuit, and Letting Go
Raven-196930 October 2016
A young woman slips away into the night while her family is preoccupied at their beloved country western fair. "Don't look for me," she writes "I have the life I have chosen now." Her father and brother search anyway, across continents and time. The girl's father is particularly obsessed with the search. He throws his life and savings into the pursuit, learns Arabic and travels to the ends of the earth at the slightest hint of her whereabouts. "Forget about your daughter," he is told "go back home and take care of your son." Yet the father sees nothing else beyond the chase. This blinding, relentless pursuit comes with severe consequences. It consumes them, these cowboys - these men and women from scattered lands, if they cannot let go. Some can let go, others cannot. Some get second chances.

Intriguing themes of Les Cowboys include letting go and the search for purpose and empathy (or lack thereof) in life. The wonderful cinematography and soundtrack of the film deftly convey emotion. Excellent screen writing; Bidegain is a screen writer turned director. His writing/co-writing credits include films I admire; A Prophet, Rust and Bone, and Dheepan. John C. Reilly makes a surprise appearance.
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8/10
Beautiful, thoughtful and unexpected
mattdearmer-1006616 June 2016
I saw this film with no knowledge of it beforehand, and it was a great surprise.

The film's look and feel is beautiful, reminding me of Rust and Bone in tone and feel. The score and soundtrack also suitably served the film, reminding me of the score for 'Seven' in places, the ominous strings swell and suggest the dread and uncertainty that the family are going through as their lives unravel. And then there's the subject matter, which in this day and age is very hard to tackle especially in the current climate.

This is a thoughtful and beautiful film that touches on a very complex issue and is expertly paced. A real treat.
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The searchers
searchanddestroy-128 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This magnificent movie is for me a terrific tribute to the western genre in many points and to John Ford's THE SEARCHERS in particular. Two men - father and son - leave everything to search for a runaway female relative, daughter and sister. A wayward girl who escaped from them. The main difference here is that the Muslim community replaces the Indian one. I also thought of Paul Schrader's HARDCORE, where Georges C Scott was also in search of his daughter, lost in the porno underworld. That's a true poignant overwhelming story that made me weep and also brought a terrific unexpected sequence, just in the middle of the movie. I don't want to spoil you this feature but, believe me, you'll be more than surprised. Hollywood film industry would have never given us such a movie, for sure. Awesome ending and an outstanding François Damiens.
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7/10
Tragic French Drama on the search for a daughter
t-dooley-69-3869163 October 2016
This film starts in 1994 when we meet father and husband Alain Deland who is a lover of all things American – especially both their kinds of music – Country and Western. His family seem more than happy to participate in the group outings too and from an outsiders perspective they are a perfect nuclear family. Then on a day when they are having a festival his daughter goes missing.

What at first seems to be a case of abduction, or indeed worse, take on a different hue when she decides to contact them. That is when the story takes a massive U turn and nothing is as it should be. This is a remake of 'The Searchers' which is one of the best westerns ever made and this take – though original – is far removed from the sheer timeless beauty of the original John Ford classic

Now this starts off fairly light hearted at the beginning but it soon gets very dark very quickly – which is like the original. That is where the similarities end. It does have a bristling, brooding quality that makes it very compelling. It is a hard watch in places and that is in part due to the energy that Francois Damiens brings as the grieving father. This is a film that deals with difficult themes in a realistic way and is both well aced, directed, written and is for fans of Gallic cinema.
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7/10
Rough edges but good story-line and acting
andrew-563-28360330 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A film that doesn't quite tick the boxes, but nonetheless worth a watch. The son (Kid) develops as the central character, despite the initial focus on his farther. Kid's character is played well - without unnecessary dialogue (which is generally quite sparse). Much is implied rather than stated, which makes this film interesting if you have the patience - and in that sense it is more typically French: relationships count more than action. Despite being a French production most of the dialogue is in English - so don't be put off if you don't like subtitles. There is no heavy handed treatment of "muslims" and, actually, the film would have worked as well without the daughter adopting Islam and the various Middle East threads that developed because of this.

A couple of weak areas I didn't like - the mother is left on the fringes, which doesn't feel appropriate given the setting. And the father's death seems illogical and simply a device to allow the son to become central - a bit of a heavy handed way to achieve this that didn't fit with the flow of the film.
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1/10
Boring and unnecessary
roland-wirtz6 June 2015
What a mess of a film!

The only best part was when it finally ended. Les Cowboys is another unnecessary remake (or reboot or whatever they are called these days). Did the director really think he could top John Ford's The Searchers in terms of storytelling and direction? Why would someone do a remake otherwise? Well, no surprise, John Ford's boots are way too big for Thomas Bidegain.

There's a certain arrogance in Les Cowboys that really rubbed me the wrong way. Watching this film felt like watching a 10 year old basketball player trying to keep up with NBA's Dream Team because he's convinced that he's better than all of them. Bidegain (a first time director) thought he had what it takes to tell a story like The Searchers. The fact that he thought he could is actually pretty bold and arrogant. And I can say the same thing about its writer, Noe Debre.

Well, as John Wayne would've said: Back to the drawing board, pilgrims!
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Another Cowboys
searchanddestroy-112 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers spoilers spoilers I just forgot to say that in 1972, there was a movie, starring John Wayne, and also called THE COWBOYS?, where the lead character - Wayne - died also in the middle of the movie, as François Damiens here.
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8/10
Wild West Frenchmen, Runaway Daughter, Long, Hard Chase
marsanobill17 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A passel of good old boys and girls wrapped in American flags, sheriff's badges and denim are they're doing what comes naturally: hoe-downin' and boot-stompin' and a-signin' sappy hurtin' songs. Then it hits you: they're actually wearing not ten-gallon hats but 38- liter Stetsons because they're all French. Yup, pardner, there's a subset of Frenchmen that is besotted with the Old West (as are Germans with American Indians), and we are delighting in this charming foolishness when it's suddenly clear that Alain's daughter is missing. Alain and his wife are subsequently astounded to learn that she has dropped all her old friends, taken on serious boyfriend, that he's a Muslim, and that he and she have utterly disappeared. Alain's hunt for her becomes increasingly obsessive, violent and dangerous as he is duped or cheated by various Muslim contacts, more or less ignored by the authorities, and frustrated and humiliated at every turn. Save for an enigmatic visit from a fonctionnaire identified only as a government minister from 'the ministry,' everything hangs together; the story is mesmerizing and fraught with tensions. Then circumstances require that Alain's son, Texanly named Kid, take over the hunt. Here begins a series of high- risk scenes and episodes that are equally mesmerizing but devoid of logic or even the remotest likelihood. These are nevertheless convincing in and of themselves, but if you require logic and likelihood, too bad. For example (spoiler!): early on Kid is out of the blue working for an NGO in Somewherestan, where he falls for a fellow do-gooder but leaves her like that on meeting a shabby and dubious American freelance 'fixer' (fabulous John C. Reilly) who's going on horseback with $800,000 in gold to ransom two guys from the Taliban and doesn't trust his creepy local guides and so he gets Kid to ride along as bodyguard by telling him he knows where the sister is and that Kid can get her back. If that won't work for you, beware: things are about to get a lot worse. This didn't bother me; I just rolled with it. But a companion hated every minute and also detected a flash of incest re father and daughter, sparked by their awkward dance at the hoedown and the theme song, 'Tennessee Waltz.' If so, that, like the sudden burst of anti-Muslim sentiment late in the show, is a toss-in that goes nowhere. As for the climax, it's enigmatic and non- credible. Proceed at your own risk.
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7/10
Propulsive and Mesmerizing if Short on Logic
billmarsano4 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A passel of good old boys and girls wrapped in American flags, sheriff's badges and denim are they're doing what comes naturally: hoe-downin' and boot-stompin' and a-signin' the sappiest of hurtin' songs (yo, 'Tennessee Waltz'?). Then it hits you: they're actually wearing 38-liter Stetsons because they're all French. Indeed, there's a subset of Frenchmen that is besotted with America's Old West (as are Germans with American Indians), and we are delighting in this charming foolishness when it's suddenly clear that Alain's daughter is missing. Alain and his wife are subsequently astounded to learn that she has dropped all her old friends, taken on serious boyfriend, that he's Muslim, and that he and she have utterly disappeared. Alain's hunt for her becomes increasingly obsessive, violent and dangerous as he is duped or cheated by various Muslim contacts, more or less ignored by the authorities, and frustrated and humiliated at every turn. Save for an enigmatic visit from a fonctionnaire identified only as a government minister from 'the ministry,' everything hands together; the story is mesmerizing and fraught with tensions. Then circumstance require that Alain's son, Texanly named Kid, take over the hunt. Here begins a series of high- risk scenes and episodes that are equally mesmerizing but devoid of logic or even the remotest likelihood. They are nevertheless convincing in and of themselves, but if you require logic and likelihood, too bad. For example (spoiler!): early on Kid is out of the blue working for an NGO in Pakistan or Afghanistan (I forget which) where he falls for a fellow do-gooder but leaves her like that on meeting a shabby and dubious American freelance 'fixer' (fabulous John C. Reilly) who's going on horseback with $800,000 in gold to ransom two guys from the Taliban and doesn't trust his creepy local guides and so gets Kid to ride along as bodyguard by telling him he can get the sister back. If that won't work for you, beware: things are about to get a lot worse. This didn't bother me; I just rolled with it. But a companion hated every minute and also detected a flash of incest re father and daughter. Proceed at your own risk.
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8/10
Les Cowboys Keeps You on the Edge
krocheav29 October 2017
For whatever reason American Westerns have always played well in France, from Alan Ladd, John Wayne, Kirk Douglass, through to Randolph Scott & Audie Murphy. Just as films about the American Native Indians did (and still do) in Germany. I knew very little about this movie before watching and glad that was the case. It wasn't until reading about it later I noticed it being touted as a modern 'remake' of Ford's "The Searchers". I saw no connection (other than a mild story thread) and feel that 'remake' is sort of a long bow to draw. It is however, a topical examination of the present times - with observations on the surge of Muslim immigration across the globe - here, focusing mostly on a provincial village in France.

While a local family attend a festival for American country music, their teenage daughter goes missing. Seems she's run off with a young Muslim to seek a new life. Dad is determined to bring her back no matter what the cost and, it's going to be high. His search covers several grotty situations in Paris then heads overseas. It's at this time the movie changes gear with an unexpected, very well staged car accident that has a life-altering impact on both the family of the daughter and the boy she ran away with. What follows is an epic trek into the Middle East and back, with equally unexpected results.

This is modern movie-making at its most intriguing with first-class performances and superb cinematography. Why something this well made has been overlooked mystifies me. Trailers I have seen for this movie would not convince me to see it - they all look as if aimed at a 12 year olds mentality. The accomplished screenwriter, and for this work also director (first feature) Thomas Bidegain creates a compelling study - complete with his own dabbling in the above-average music score - which is mostly composed by Raphael Haroche, ably assisted by co-composer and orchestrator Moritz Reich. There's much to enjoy in this involving drama even to the point of being unsure if dad's interest in his daughter may be a little more intense than it should be (he certainly is an over-intense sort of fellow) or simply the love of a caring parent. It's a story recommended for thinking audiences - that holds a good pace, as it spans a couple of decades while never outstaying it's welcome.
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