There are times in our lives during which everything is going fine. Love, money, good health or just a small lucky moment. However, there’s also the other side of the spectrum. The darker times. You might have been confronted with death, grief, sadness or just bad luck.
Sadly, Kris is going through some difficult times with her mom in jail and the influence of her not so clever friends. Her story is being told in “Bull”, the directional debut from Annie Silverstein.
It turns out to be an emotional, compelling and hopeful one about a girl wanting to turn her life around but sadly there are too much clichés.
Living a rural neighbourhood in Houston, Kris (Amber Havard) is trying to deal with her mom being in jail and taking care of her little sister and grandmother.
Things aren’t easy for her to say the least but this headstrong young lady isn’t about to give up. Especially when her mother might be released soon.
Despite being hopeful about things, her bad friends, the booze and drugs are dragging Kris into a negative spiral and she seems destined to follow her mother’s footsteps and not for the best.
It can even go from bad to worse when Kris might be sent to juvie after destroying her neighbour’s house during a wild night out. However, she and her neighbour Abe (Rob Morgan) make a deal. He makes sure she doesn’t get behind bars while she helps him clean up the mess.
While this seems like a setback for Kris, there’s a silver lining to this as it’s the start of a new, unlikely but close friendship. As an ageing bullfighter struggling to keep one foot in the ring, Abe is training a new generation of bullfighters and after a life full of pain, mystery, and insecurity, Kris is ready for a change.
She sees bullfighting as the perfect opportunity to raise money for her family. Dangerous, wild and untamed. Will Abe be Kris her salvation and will she put him back on the “bullfighting map” or will hope be lost for both of them?
While making her first full length feature, Silverstein clearly got some inspirations from outstanding films such as “Leave No Trace” (bad decisions can turn a young girl her life completely upside down), “The Rider” (the growing bond between man and animal is an emotional way to recovery) and “Lean on Pete” (a teenager discovers his passion for riding while working).
Despite the very noticeable efforts to become equal to these movies, “Bull” isn’t there yet. While all those films are all about the leading character opening up about emotions, making your own life no matter how bad your situation is and determination, in “Bull” we see these elements more as an outsider instead of through the eyes of the heroine.
Ok yes, it’s clear that Kris is having a difficult, tough and rough time but “Bull” would have had so much more impactful if we could see and feel the story of Kris her perspective.
The feelings and emotions would be heightened even more. It would make from this film a less dragging and slow one. A little bit more punch wouldn’t have hurt as well as less clichés.
However, that doesn’t mean that “Bull” isn’t worth seeing. Most of the time it was a captivating and fascinating one and the key for that was the relationship between Kris and Abe brought wonderfully and beautifully by Havard and Morgan.
Havard, who makes her acting debut, does portray Kris in the best way possible: As a broken, determined and a girl looking for friendship and a way out.
After the openings film “La femme de mon frère”, “Bull” is the second film being screened that is part of the “Un Certain Regard” program. In total, eighteen films are selected for that competition and “Bull” is one you should put on your list.
Despite being a little bit too long or just not original enough, the film delivers an emotional, wonderful and hopeful story about wanting to get your life back on track. It’s almost like “The Rider” but with bulls and a little bit more clichés.