USA: Horse racing could have another box office smash on its hands if the early reviews of new movie Jockey are to be believed.
The movie, which tells the story of a veteran rider competing at the lower levels of the sport in the US, drew comparisons with the Bafta-winning and Oscar-nominated The Wrestler when it premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Clifton Collins jr plays ageing jockey Jackson who, despite deteriorating health, hopes to convince his long-supporting trainer Ruth that he deserves one last shot at winning a big race with her star horse – only for that to be complicated by the arrival of a teenage riding prodigy claiming to be his son.
The film, co-written and directed by Clint Bentley, who based it on the experiences of his father, former jockey Robert Glenn Bentley, has an authentic edge – it was shot during live racing at Turf Paradise in Arizona.
Collins jr, who mixed with jockeys and even got heckled by fans, said he cut himself off from family and friends to play the loner character. He also shed 20lb, existing on a diet of a handful of almonds a day – and the occasional M&M.
“We wanted to be a part of the environment, so it helped to not have trailers, to not have giant lights,” Collins told Variety. “It helped to not have hair and makeup or cast chairs with your name on them.”
It all contributed to a convincing portrayal which has earned the actor glowing notices.