Barstool Cowboy (2008) – By Josh Samford

 Barstool Cowboy is the essence of stripped down cinema. What all of those Dogme 95 fellows would refer to as a more truthful form of storytelling and artistic expression – although I think those folks are generally out of their mind; sometimes cinema needs a rebirth and storytelling needs a leeway back into the world of the ordinary. The premise of the film is relatively story, Mick is a modern cowboy who wears all of the dressings of the past. Big hats, belt buckle, boots and the whole nine yards. After having his heart broken, he finds himself pledging to spend the next three months getting drunk at the local bar. However, things quickly take a step in a different direction when he meets Arly. She’s a 19 year old stunningly beautiful artist who one day stands out in front of the bar sketching it in her notepad. Mick introduces himself after the regular patrons in the bar throw a fit about the young woman and assume she’s up to no good. Mick brings her inside and the two quickly strike up a fanciful conversation and before long they’re taking walks and visiting dance clubs together. Will Arly be the one to save Mick?

Barstool Cowboy at times trips into some pitfalls that lead it into slightly cliched territory, and it may be a little saccharine in its depiction of this amazing and instantaneous relationship, but overall it’s an entertaining and unique look at love as a series of repetitive valleys. I have to think the filmmakers were looking to encapsulate the film and its message in what feels like a very limited amount of time. Although not told in one night, as films of that manner tend to be (Before Sunrise comes to mind), this brief affair is all our focus and seems so quick that it’s easy to understand Mick’s obsession with it. This comes in part due to the chemistry (and beauty as well) of Rachel Lien who plays Arcy, as well as Tim Woodward’s (as Mick) performance which at times can be a little theatrical or dry, but who leads you to believe in this character and his unfortunate willingness to fall so heavy for women who may be a little too dangerous. I won’t go and spoil the film for anyone, but there is a certain underlying negativity that rides along with the film and I can imagine some might find the message at the conclusion of the film to be a slight case of youthful pessimism. As a pessimistic and somewhat youthful person myself however, I can certainly appreciate the "message" of the film and some of the warnings that it gives to those who would blindly walk into such things.

The musical montages, which are plentiful, are actually well done and featuring some fairly interesting music. I went and searched out Natalie Illeana, who apparently supplied a lot of the music and did a really good job. You can hear more of their music at their site, and I definitely recommend it. Especially if you like female-fronted alternative rock bands like Frente!, The Breeders or Juliana Hatfield. The film itself seems like a growing point for the filmmakers and I find it likely that this won’t be the last we hear from them. Barstool Cowboy certainly has points of it that could certainly use some work, the editing could have been tighter and the narrative sometimes seems episodic – but it is still a film that moves at a good pace and works very well outside of conventional patterns. Some of the performances were a little shaky, but overall I have to say I enjoyed the film as it went along – especially the second half which is where the film seems to find its legs finally. If you’re coming out of a relationship and you’re hating your ex, I think its safe to say you’re going to love Barstool Cowboy. I can definitely sympathize and wish all of the cast and crew the best in their future endeavors. To read more on the film and view the trailer, you can visit the official site at BarstoolCowboyMovie.com.