Clifton Collins Jr. and Molly Parker Have a Wonderful Rapport in “Jockey”.
The last time I saw Canadian Actress Molly Parker she was a last-minute replacement midwife and was being swept up, Tasmanian devil-like, into the 24-minute-long take at the beginning of “Pieces of a Woman”.
During that take, Parker’s midwife goes through a sea of emotions from:
- EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL
- CAREFULLY DISGUISED CONCERN
- WE’VE GOT TO GET THE BABY OUT NOW
- ENORMOUS RELIEF
- OMG, SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG HERE
and she gets it exactly right. For those twenty-four minutes, she embodies a healthcare professional.
In “Jockey“, she acts like she has been around horses her entire life. She plays Ruth, the horse trainer friend of Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) an aging jockey plagued by health problems (the movie opens with his doctor telling him you’ve got to stop now or else.) who wants to win just one last race.
Collins Jr. has been rightly praised for his performance. He is an excellent character actor whose face you recognize even though you may not know his name. And isn’t that the definition of a great character actor? You can see him as a carnival barker in “Nightmare Alley”, his typical small disposable role.
However, in this movie, all his best scenes are with Parker. They have a lovely rapport based on their shared love of horses, and when they get a little drunk and let their guard down, there is a suggestion that there might be something deeper or a history of something deeper between them
It was also during these scenes that I remembered where I had noticed (I mean noticed) Collins Jr. before playing accused murderer Perry Smith to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Truman Capote in the 2005 movie “Capote”. Their scenes together were crucial in Hoffman’s Oscar win.
Elsewhere the film is more uneven though director Clint Bentley, whose father was a jockey, knows his way around a track and there is a good scene where the other jockeys (mostly real jockeys and some other non-professional actors) get together and talk about their lives and their endless series of injuries. Even a hackneyed subplot in which a newly arrived young jockey in the making may or may not be Jackson’s long-lost son gets by thanks to the expert performance of Moises Arias who is a few inches shorter than Collins Jr. and perfect jockey material.
So, even though we know that race will happen, there are many incidental pleasures along the way to make “Jockey” well worth seeing.