Starring: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, Clifford “Method Man” Smith
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Netflix drama directed and co-written by Ricky Staub. Inspired by the real-life Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, Concrete Cowboy (2021) follows fifteen year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), who is sent to with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba), in North Philadelphia. There he discovers the city’s vibrant urban cowboy subculture, which has existed for more than a hundred years, providing a safe haven for the neighborhood, despite the surrounding poverty, violence, and encroachment of gentrification.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'The past is not the present.' - Nessie (Concrete Cowboy) Click To Tweet 'Hard things come before good things.' - Nessie (Concrete Cowboy) Click To Tweet 'Home ain't a place. It's a fam. That's what make us cowboys.' - Harp (Concrete Cowboy) Click To Tweet
Amahle: This life isn’t working, Cole. You are drowning out here. You are going to drown! I’ve literally done everything I could think of for you. And still, here I am again, leaving work, trying to convince another principal, and another police officer, that my son knows better. And you don’t. And neither do I anymore.
Nessie: I know you. You Harp’s boy.
Cole: Where’s he at?
Cole: The what?
Cole: There’s a horse in your house.
Harp: [points to the couch] Well, this you, right here.
Cole: I ain’t staying here.
Harp: Alright. I’m going to hit it though. But once you step out, that door stays locked till morning.
Cole: I’ll leave in the morning.
Cole: What home I got here?
Smush: F*** you talking about? Home ain’t a place, dummy. It’s fam, alright? You got fam here.
Cole: What fam, man? I don’t even know that n****, man. Plus, he’s living with some nasty-a** horse.
Smush: [to Cole] Your moms ain’t coming back, alright? I seen plenty n****s get dropped off at the stoop, and that summertime s**t becomes years. So I suggest you cozy up with them nasty-a** f***ing horses.
Harp: You want to ride the street life? You can’t be in my house. Alright? You want to wise up, you say your goodbyes to Smush, you’re welcome back.
Cole: Welcome back to what? Old beer and sliced cheeses? I ain’t got no home here.
Harp: That’s your choice.
Cole: I got nowhere to stay.
Nessie: Uh-uh. You can’t come at me with that. Now, your daddy got rules that you not abiding by. Guess what? I got rules too.
Nessie: Lookit here. I’m on my knees at 4:00 AM every morning, praying for every boy on this block. I keep a warm meal, and a clean bed, for when the prodigals return.
Cole: Fine, fine. Fine. Then I’m a prodigal.
Nessie: No, you’re not. No, you still running out there. You ain’t ate that pig slop yet.
Cole: What does that even mean?
Nessie: You think about what I just said. I got to get up early. My prayer list just got longer.
Nessie: [referring to Cole spending the night in the stables] You should have got your head bashed in. What do I find? Daniel laying there in the lions den, snuggled up side by side.
Cole: What that mean?
Nessie: Means that Boo’s yours.
Nessie: Ooh, you got a mouth like your daddy.
Cole: Well, that’s the only thing I got from him.
Nessie: [to Cole] Listen to me. The past is not the present. Alright? What, you too dumb to play by some rules? Well, alright. But you not going to get to sleep in my stables.
Cole: I’ll be done with Smush, and I’ll be ready to ride horses, or whatever.
Harp: You want to ride a horse? You got to work the stables.
Smush: S**t, you thought I was going to let you ride with banged-up jawns on your feet? You got some Chewbacca-a** feet.
Cole: You’re so dumb.
Nessie: [as Cole starts to work at the stables] Haul everything out to the s**t pit.
Cole: What’s the s**t pit?
Nessie: Dumpster full of s**t.
Nessie: Hard things come before good things.
Cole: They got you shoveling s**t too?
Esha: Hard things come before good things.
Cole: This some cult life, for real.
Cole: How long I got to be doing this s**t-pit duty?
Esha: As long as it takes.
Cole: For what?
Esha: Horses ain’t the only thing that need breaking around here.
Cole: What are you talking about?
Cole: No one told me I had to do all this s**t.
Paris: Yeah. No one told me I was going to have a lazy-a** young boul here.
Cole: [referring to the horse] Why you name him Little?
Paris: I named him after my little bro. He got killed a couple years ago.
Cole: What you think they’re going to do with Boo?
Paris: I guess that’s up to you.
Rome: Fifty percent of all cowboys were Black, brown, bronze, or some other color.
Harp: [laughs] You said fifty? Where you getting them numbers from?
Rome: Look it up! Real rap! Even the Lone Ranger was Black.
Cole: Who’s the Lone Ranger?
Rome: Get the f*** out of here. Harp, you teaching this boy?
Nessie: Look, Hollywood has whitewashed us. They just deleted us right out of the history books.
Rome: They’re always trying to delete us from history books. “Cowhand” became “cowboy”. Did you know that? That’s what they called us. “Hey, boy. Hold that cattle down while I brand it. Hey, boy. Go break that horse.”
Nessie: People used to believe that breaking a horse meant crushing the will of the animal, dominating them, making them believe that the only way it was going to survive was to submit, right? Well, Black folks, we knew that a horse wasn’t meant to be dominated. A horse is meant to be free. Only way you can realize its true spirit, its nature, is through love.
Harp: The history here is deep.
Harp: Like, Fletcher Street, right here, we like some cowboy orphans. You know what I’m saying? We like the Wild West out here. The last remaining.
Leroy: See, what happens is, you don’t own any of this s**t. Y’all just renting. So that brings me to my next question. What are we doing about it?
Paris: “We”? You speaking French?
Rome: What do you mean, “we,” white man?
Harp: Man, look. We ain’t doing s**t. You traded in your saddle for your city brass.
Leroy: History going to repeat itself, and you all out here, just another night of drinking, and smoking, and lying to each other, when you need to be…
Harp: Man, L, you know what? Do me a favor. Drink that, or go write some parking tickets.
Cole: How did you end up in the chair?
Paris: Couple years ago, me and my brother went out riding and got into an altercation. Ended up in the hospital. I woke up. He didn’t. The bullet shattered my spine. Now I’m spending the rest of my life in this chair. Fighting over nothing. Fighting over a corner. The city, they built a Starbucks right on the corner. S**t we was fighting over. All over nothing.
Smush: A lion, who’s like feeding on rhinos and s**t, don’t got time to be chasing no rabbits. You know what I’m saying?
Cole: You good, man?
Smush: I just made that s**t up.
Smush: We’re going to own something together, man. Me and you. Do you believe that?
Smush: No, man. I said, “Do you believe that?”
Cole: Yeah, I believe you.
Smush: We going to be okay. Alright? As long as you with me, we going to be okay.
Cole: Get out of my f***ing business, man.
Harp: No, you ain’t riding with Smush.
Cole: I’m riding with me. Like I’ve done from day one.
Cole: [to Harp] You ain’t my f***ing father! I mean, you a f***ing father to everyone else out here. Teaching them how to ride, making homemade saddles for cripples and s**t. And I can’t even get some f***ing food in the fridge. Damn, them m*therf***ing horses got more love than me.
Harp: Oh, you a man now? Huh? You a man now? What, them streets done made you a f***ing man overnight? No, man! You’re a boy. You’re a f***ing boy. You f*** around, you’re going to get shot f***ing with Smush, do you understand me?
Cole: [crying] Why you hate me, man?
Harp: I was just like Smush. Alright? I was just like him, man. Out there, doing all kinds of s**t. S**t, I was on charges when your mama got pregnant. Yeah. But I hid out. I hid out because I wanted to meet you, man. I ain’t want them to take that away. I wanted to meet you. But they squeezed her. She flipped on me. I ain’t never blame her, man, because, you know, she was just trying to do right by you, you know? She was mad at me.
Harp: The feds, they came. They took everything I got. Just like that, I was doing a nickel upstate. Before I’d went away, I asked your mama. I said, “Look, I ain’t s**t. I know. But just let me name my son. Can I? Can I name him? Just give me that.” So I called you Coltrane. Yeah. That’s your name. Greatest man I ever knew that did it without a father.
Smush: We’re almost there.
Cole: Almost where?
Smush: Out of here.
Harp: [referring to Boo] Man, you need to take this lead, alright? Click it on his halter, alright? Let him know that you there. Let him know that you running this show. You understand me, Cole? Come on. You got this.
Harp: [as they watch Cole ride Boo] Wow, he’s doing it.
Rome: Yes, sir. He done broke Boo.
Esha: Are you ready for the cookout?
Cole: I don’t really know what to be ready for, so.
Esha: It’s like those scenes in The Fast and the Furious. You got the cars at the start line, and the engines revving, and the crowd going crazy, and just like everybody partying and having a good time. It’s like that, but with cowboys and horses.
Esha: [gives Cole a cowboy hat] It’s time we make you official.
Cole: Okay. How do I look?
Esha: Like a real cowboy.
Smush: Them stables? They expired, bro. They’ve been gone. Everyone who was supposed to take care of me left me out on them corners, man. You don’t see it yet, C. You don’t see their s**t. We alone out here, man. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being left. So I’m going to get my money, I’m going to build my own f***ing train, and I’m going to get up out of here. Alright? You with me or not, bro?
Leroy: I always wanted to be a cop. Ever since my mom took me to a parade, watching those policemen ride by, all suited up like knights. I knew then. You don’t have to get out to grow up.
Esha: You ready to learn to stand on a horse?
Cole: I mean, I’m out here, ain’t I?
Esha: Yeah, you are.
City Official: [as they’re taking the horses] I’m sorry, but there’s been reports of malnourishment.
Rome: My horses eat better than you, chubby m*therf***er!
Leroy: You guys brought this on yourself. You had every chance to get this right, and you did nothing. Okay? Go somewhere and think this out.
Rome: We built this place! Y’all trying to tear this place down! We built this place! This our home!
Smush: Listen to this.
Smush: Right there. Silence. That stillness, man. That’s what I’ve been chasing my whole life, bro. So wherever we going, it’s going to be somewhere quiet, somewhere still. Just me and you.
Harp: [to Cole] I feel like I was born with a boot on my neck. Taught from the jump. “Watch your back out there.” That’s what my mama used to tell me. “Watch your back out there, boy.” I don’t know who they expect us to grow up to be if we watching over our shoulder all our f***ing lives.
Harp: The only home I ever known was on the back of a horse.
Harp: Smush one of us, man. They may have put his body in the ground already, but he ain’t go in no cowboy. We got to go get Chuck, get his boots. We’re going to put them on his grave. Let’s give him his last ride.
Leroy: [as he catches Harp and Cole trying to take the horses] I’ve been out there three nights, waiting for your dumb a**es to drum up the courage.
Harp: So now what? Are you here to arrest us?
Leroy: No, I’m here to make sure some rook with a sweaty trigger finger doesn’t shoot your Black a**es.
Leroy: [to Harp, as he lets loose the other horses] So look, I suggest you lay low until morning. Or at least until everybody remembers we have actual murders to solve, and gets bored looking for some lost pets.
Cole: [referring to the stables being demolished] Pops, we can’t just watch this go down. We got to do something.
Rome: Let’s ride in and block them. Give these m*therf***ers a day off.
Harp: Yeah, all them places you talk about right here, all them places, long gone. They’re all bricks and beams right now. But you still here, ain’t you? You still here? Let them take the stables. Let them take them because they can’t take who we are as a people.
Harp: Home ain’t a place. It’s a fam. That’s what make us cowboys.
Cole: So what we going to do then?
Harp: Well, s**t, we’re going to do what we always do. We’re going to ride.
Harp: [to Amahle] Yeah, he got his own horse. I mean, he’s still got a lot to learn. He ain’t no me.
Cole: I ain’t no… I’m better than you.
Harp: Ain’t no ole Harp, man.
Cole: I’m better than you.
Harp: Better than who? What? Come on, man.
Jamil Prattis “Paris”: [real Fletcher Rider] These horses been here before me. Know what I’m saying? So it’s like when we telling this story, I want people to sit back, and just look, and see, like this is really happening. And they do this, and people got good days and bad days. And that’s like regular. That’s like regular life. And this is life.
Ivannah-Mercedes “Esha”: [real Fletcher Rider] And I think that if more people knew about it, and knew how important the stable was to so many people, young people, who don’t have anywhere else to go.
Albert C. Lynch “Al”: [real Fletcher Rider] I think I get more enjoyment out of watching the kids that I actually teach. Watching them kind of like them absorb it, and then adapt, and then make an adjustment, not just with a horse, but just in life itself.
Michael Upshur “Miz”: [real Fletcher Rider] The stable, like it does a lot for us. Like, you know, I can pretty much sit here, and say that I’m in my forties right now, and I believe in my heart because of this stable that’s why I don’t have a felony on my record. You know what I mean? Or nothing like that. It just, it helps keep you on a stralright path with the other guys down here, the older guys, you know, because they’ve been through everything that we’re about to go through.