In May 2019, “Bull” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Now, just under a year later, this “slice of life” drama is finally available on Video On Demand and digital platforms through distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films.
“Bull” is set in rural Texas. 14-year-old Kris (Amber Havard, in her first on-screen acting role) and her younger sister live with their grandma. Their mother is in jail. Abe (Rob Morgan) lives alone, a few houses away. He was once a top professional bull rider, and now works as a wrangler on the regional rodeo circuit.
Kris’s wild, untamed behavior regularly gets her into trouble. One particularly bad decision causes the lives of the two main characters to collide. But this isn’t your typical old, wise mentor/young apprentice in need of guidance story. It’s significantly less flashy. “Bull” strips away the usual trappings of such relationships films, leaving us with a gritty, grounded snapshot of life in this small Texas town.
Kid are restless. Families are broken. Poverty is rampant. And it doesn’t take much for Kris to get sucked into hanging out with the wrong crowd, dragging her little sister along with her. Many scenes are raw and borderline uncomfortable to witness.
The strength of “Bull” is the performances of Havard and Morgan (who, interestingly, has also appeared on the CBS legal drama “Bull”). Co-writer/director Annie Silverstein has also done an admirable job capturing the dusty setting and dreary tone. And the many tricky the bull riding scenes are 100% believable.
Unfortunately, “Bull” isn’t quite as fresh, well-paced or emotionally powerful as you want it to be. Silverstein gives the film proper time and space to develop, slowly building to a somber final act. But, ultimately, the story leaves you a little cold.
This is a good, but not championship-worthy indie.