MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Annie Silverstein
Starring: Rob Morgan, Amber Harvard, Yolanda Ross
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
What It Is: A young girl and a world-weary bull rider forge a connection over their mutually headstrong ways.
What We Think: Bull is an endearing display of naturalistic filmmaking in an impressively strong directorial debut. Refreshingly, the movie is surrounded by bull-fighting with a loose plot focused on a sort of mentorship between an aged man and a determined young girl but isn’t a clichéd sports story. Bull-fighting is only shown to be an outlet for these characters’ habitually self-destructive tendencies. The characters and the world are grounded in reality, with all the actors, even background characters, feeling genuine. Amber Harvard gave an excellent performance as a withdrawn teenager facing a lot of burdens and trauma in her life. Her partner on-screen, Rob Morgan also gave an adept performance as a man obsessed with his job, even though it’s destroying his body, and has destroyed a lot of his life. Both characters show different stages of a person who self-sabotages themselves to follow in the footsteps of a pattern they don’t want to break. Bull is full of parallels and patterns of unhealthy decisions that make themselves apparent as the movie goes on, both between Kris (Harvard) and Abe (Morgan), and their respective parental figures before them. The film, as I mentioned before, doesn’t have too much of a plot, adding to the realist feel. There’s also a selective lack of non-diegetic music that adds to this atmosphere. The only complaint I have here is a scene nearer to the end that I felt lost the realism. A callback that was much too heavy-handed and just didn’t land… which I feel was a somewhat important issue, considering it was supposed to be the climax of the film.
Our Grade: B+, Bull is very impressive for a directorial debut. It captures a feel and a message effortlessly and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes you would expect from someone just starting their career as a director. I do wish the ending would have gone differently, as it’s a very important part of a movie, and it’s what you’re left with last, but aside from that- I enjoyed the ride. I look forward to seeing what Silverstein creates next.