War Pony review – rousing tale of love and money on a Native American reservation

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The tenderness, wisdom and instinct to survive of two teenage males is beautifully observed in actor-turned-director Riley Keough’s debut feature

Actor Riley Keough establishes her film-making credentials with this terrific debut feature, co-directed with Gina Gammell. It is a movie set on and around the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota and is scripted by Gammell with Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob. It’s a really heartfelt and absorbing story (with something of Chloé Zhao’s The Rider) about two young guys from the Oglala Lakota community, one about 12 or 13, the other 19 or 20. They are not known to each other, or at least not until the very end of the film. But the drama lets us see how much life experience they share, and how they could almost be the same boy at different times of life.

LaDainian Crazy Thunder plays Matho, a young kid with an aggressive, abusive dad. He has a crush on a girl in his maths class at school and has a sweet and almost romantic reverence for a children’s book he’s found about magic spells. But his relationship with his dad leads to disaster and he winds up living with a relative who deals in meth, and Matho – already way older and more careworn than his years – starts selling this at school, against his auntie’s express wishes.

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