Reaching across 15 years and multiple countries, Les Cowboys repurposes the narrative codes of the classic western to explore the complexities of a disrupted world.
The story opens in 1994 at a country-and-western fair in rural France, where cowboy-hatted families have gathered to enjoy line dancing and a rodeo. (W)hen Alain (François Damiens), a local businessman, is cajoled into singing the Patti Page classic “Tennessee Waltz,” it’s no surprise when the lyrics turn out to have been a foreshadowing. He’s about to lose his “little darling.”
That loss — of his 16-year-old daughter, Kelly (Iliana Zabeth), who disappears during the festivities — is the match that ignites the film’s fuse (…). Alain, believing his daughter kidnapped, rails at the police and the parents of Kelly’s newly discovered Muslim boyfriend, who has also disappeared. Mr. Damiens, in a performance as fierce as it is precise, winds his character into a knot of fury and despair.
Directing for the first time, the prolific screenwriter Thomas Bidegain creates (…) (a) mesmerizing drama. Les Cowboys presents a suggestive, almost abstract take on terror and the generational toxicity of bigotry.
Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times