#CANNES22: “WAR PONY” REVIEW
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
This impressive First-Feature Debut by Co-Directors Riley Keough and Gina Gammell follows two Oglala Lakota boys on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting) is a 23-year-old trying to make some money. When he finds an abandoned poodle, he starts his own dog breeding business. While Matho (Ladainian Crazy Thunder) is a 12-year-old desperate for his father’s approval. When the unexpected happens, Matho sees no other way but to follow in his father’s footsteps. Bound by their shared search for belonging, they grapple with identity, family, and loss, as they navigate their unique paths to manhood.
Keough and Gammell observe their endearing characters navigate reservation life. Although this is more of a character-driven piece, it’s more captivating than plot-focused narratives. Their two storylines give a ranged look at what these young men need to do to survive in a world that’s abandoned them. The Co-Directors use the two interlocking storylines as a way to give an authentic look into the lives of those on reservations.
Bill is a go-getter who’s trying to start his own business. His drive to succeed is infectious. Additionally, he’s a goofball who wants to get the mother of one of his children back. His endearing quality is that things never quite go right in his romantic life. Bapteise Whiting gives a star-making performance. We see the struggle he’s lived through, his desire to succeed and the bond that grows between him and his Poodle.
Matho’s story is much darker. He’s forced to act beyond his years due to his home life. He’s surrounded by a particular style of living and only wants his father’s approval. In seeking that, it backfires and his father kicks him out of the house. Forcing this 12-year-old to provide for himself, leads him right down the life his father led. Crazy Thunder gives a heartbreaking performance as the young boy who’s trying to find a way to survive.
The Co-Directors and Writers, with the help of Co-Writers Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, bring in Native American beliefs through the use of the American Buffalo. The Lakota believe the American buffalo is a symbol that one does not have to struggle to survive if the right action is joined by the right prayer. The American buffalo is witnessed by both Bill and Matho at different moments. This, in addition to the editing by Affonso Gonçalves and Eduardo Serrano, brings these two young men together.
War Pony screens at Cannes ’22:
Sat, May 21 at 2:15 PM at SALLE DEBUSSY
Sun, May 22 at 8:30 AM at SALLE DEBUSSY
Sun, May 22 at 12:00 PM at CINEUM AURORE
Mon, May 23 at 11:30 AM at LICORNE
Mon, May 23 at 1:15 PM at CINEUM SCREEN X
#CANNES: 2022 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW
The 2022 Cannes Film Festival kicks-off Tuesday, May 18, 2022 and runs till Saturday, May 28, 2022. This will be our first official year at the Festival as our Amanda Gilmore will be on the French Riviera covering the Festival!
Returning to its traditional May slot, the Festival serves as a major precursor to what we might see Awards Season later this year. But timed perfectly, some huge Blockbusters like TOP GUN: MAVERICK and Baz Luhrmann‘s ELVIS will be getting their chance to premiere before the world. Many eyes will be on Openight Night film Michel Hazanavicius’ FINAL CUT, David Cronenberg’s Athens-filmed CRIMES OF THE FUTURE and Closing Night selection SHOWING UP from Director Kelly Reichardt.
Amanda previews for us her six-most eagerly-anticipated titles of the Festival.
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE
Canada’s David Cronenberg is finally back at Cannes and is bringing Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen with him. Crimes of the Future takes place in the not-so-distant future where the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. In a recent interview, Cronenberg said he’s expecting walkouts at the Festival screenings. This only makes us want to see it more! It will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.
DECISION TO LEAVE
After spending some time making television, Director Park Chan-wook has returned to Film with Decision to Leave. It’s a mystery thriller that follows a detective who falls for a widow after she becomes the prime suspect in his latest murder investigation. We are fans of Chan-wook’s prior films such as Oldboy and Stoker. We can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve for Decision to Leave. It will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.
We have been waiting for this biopic of Elvis Presley for some time now after production was halted at the beginning of the pandemic. Finally, it will be having its world premiere at the Festival and we couldn’t be happier. Baz Luhrmann is bringing his dazzling direction to the Rock Legend’s life and he’s assembled quite the cast. We can’t wait to see Austin Butler become the man himself and Tom Hanks’ portrayal of his manager Colonel Tom Parker.
THE SILENT TWINS
This Film tells the true, eerie story of twin sisters who were entirely silent, communicating only with each other as children. As teenagers, they became obsessed with writing fiction, then with teenage boys, and finally, with crime. It’s Written and Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska and stars Letitia Wright as both sisters. It will screen in-competition for the Un Certain Regard Award.
THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
Writer-Director George Miller is returning to Cannes for this Fantasy Romance starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. It follows a lonely scholar on a trip to Istanbul who discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. What she wants is love, but can and should he grant it to her? We can’t wait to see what epic journey Miller brings us on this time.
Actress Riley Keogh is making her Director Debut with War Pony. She Co-Directs with Gina Gammell and the Film is based on real events. It follows the interlocking stories of three Lakota men living on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The three tales explore the concept of belonging: a child belonging to a family, a man belonging to “America,” and an elder belonging to his Tribe. It will screen in-competition for the Un Certain Regard Award.
Stay tuned for our coverage and bookmark this link for updated Reviews and coverage!