Barstool Cowboy

Barstool Cowboy


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Have you ever come to the end of a relationship and decided to drown your sorrows down at your local pub? That's what Mick (the titular Cowboy, played by Tim Woodward) is doing, declaring that he will be loyal to his bar stool until sufficient time has passed for his head to clear. But we all know the way these things work, and no sooner has he made his vow than a chance encounter with a pretty young art student sees him prepare to throw caution to the wind once again.

In Hollywood, taking risks like this always leads to true love and happy endings. In real life that isn't always the case, and Barstool Cowboy seeks to undermine some of the established conventions of romance, taking its characters on a journey where the destination is less clear. The art student (Rachel Lien) says she just wants a friend, making Mick promise not to fall in love with her, but she's 19 and hopelessly naive about the impact she's having as they hang around together. Mick, in turn, makes a big mistake in expecting her to behave like an adult and to share his understanding of boundaries. Her enthusiasm is good for him, bringing him out of his shell, and he enjoys introducing her to his world, but the film doesn't shy away from exploring the problems caused by the differences between them.

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It's an interesting idea. Woodward delivers an affecting performance in the central role, though his direct-to camera monologues don't always work - the film is framed like a conversation in a bar but doesn't completely pull it off. Lien isn't as strong as an actor hut has a certain spontaneity appropriate to her role. The real problem is that the story built around these archetypal characters doesn't have enough substance beyond them. Attempts to find humour in everyday incidents are not always strong enough to engage and the film's dramatic strengths are undermined by its sometime retreat into slapstick. It needs a stronger script and more assured direction.

Also problematic is the film's attempt to tell much of its story through the lyrics of its country music soundtrack. This is simply too crude a device to fit with the necessary subtleties of the story, and it often overwhelms the action. That said, fans of the genre will find it entertaining to listen to and it's a great showcase for performers Natalie Illeana and Greg Kincheloe.

It's good to see filmmakers trying to do something new with the romance genre and it's refreshing to see it approached from a male perspective, but Barstool Cowboy isn't what it could have been. That said, it'll be interesting to keep an eye on Thimijan and see where he can take things from here.

Reviewed on: 28 Jun 2009
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A lonely unemployed man is lamenting his ill luck with women when he meets a pretty art student and decides to take a chance.
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Director: Mark Thimijan

Writer: Mark Thimijan

Starring: Tim Woodward, Rachel Lien

Year: 2008

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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