Identifying a character as a “bull-rider” is Hollywood shorthand for “this person is a complicated, stubborn, reckless rebel. Oh, and incidentally, they’re darkly sexy but mostly unwilling to commit.” Because bulls are scary, yo! They’re a metaphor for the raw, chaotic, unpredictable nature of life! It takes a particular cinematic type—a brave, free-spirited, kind of stupid man or woman (usually a man, though)—to tame the beasts’ wild hearts, or, more often, to die violently trying.
Our own Scott Tobias recently reviewed Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride, which followed Scott Eastwood as Luke, an “old-fashioned cowboy looking to bounce back on the professional bull-riding circuit after Rango dealt him a serious head injury” who refuses to give up on his bull-centric dreams even though they literally almost killed him (see: reckless; kind of stupid). And remember 8 Seconds? Luke Perry, a classic rough-and-tumble rebel, goes so far as to actually die for those dreams. Same goes for Talk To Her, in which the fiery matador Lydia, while running game on two dudes at once (commitment issues; dark sexiness), is gored in a bull-fight and falls into a coma.
Today brings news that Emily Blunt will join these smoldering, obstinate, often-dead ranks: She’s attached to star in the forthcoming bull-riding drama Bronco Belle, from first-time writer-director Khurram Longi. Blunt will play Raylene Jackson, a—wait for it—“stubborn but vulnerable and determined American woman with a chip on her shoulder who dreams of becoming a champion bull-rider. Supported by an old-time trainer out to redeem himself and a hustler promoter, Jackson battles through heartbreak, prejudice, broken dreams, and bones to reach the top of the sport.” Should I just quit right now and write bull-riding scripts for the rest of my adult life, or…?
Bronco Belle does deviate from my made-up formula a bit: Raylene isn’t supposed to be heartbroken, she’s supposed to be doling out all manner of romantic wounds with that aforementioned shoulder-chip. But I’m into the “battling prejudice” bit of the plot summary—sounds like Bronco Belle might have a bit of a feminist bent.
Longi’s explanation of why and how he wrote the script supports that theory: “We were driving down from New York [on a road trip] and ended up in Texas where by chance we stumbled across the world of rodeo. I had never been to one before. We started to follow the rodeo trail and the world inspired me to write this script. During the writing I was influenced by films like Thelma And Louise and The Color Of Money…For me, this is a female Rocky-on-a-bull type of film. I thought it was a great hook. After seeing Emily in Edge Of Tomorrow I thought she would be perfect so had her in my mind as I was writing it.”
An Emily Blunt film inspired by Thelma And Louise, The Color Of Money, Rocky, and badass motherfucking Rita Vrataski? I feel so alive right now. Does anybody have a bull I could ride for a sec?