When her mother dies tragically in a car accident, 17-year-old Jessie is taken in by her aunt and uncle, in western Montana. She finds herself in a new school, with the unexpected attention of a cocky bull rider—and an almost impossible need to hold on to the one connection she has with her mother: barrel racing. Doing anything she can to get around horses, Jessie doesn’t give up on her dream, despite not having a horse of her own. But when her Uncle Mick finds a deal on a cutting horse that’s been deemed useless, Jessie finds a new hope in life, and the chance at barrel racing she’s been needing.
Amidst the grief of losing her mother, and the changes that result, Jessie is working and training with horses. Her life is filled with challenges and opportunities. Useless is about Jessie, the people around her, and a horse with an odd name.
Useless shines brightest in its moments of restraint, emotion, and beauty. It promotes feeling by observation. We see Jessie impacted by unexpected situations. We see her training with the horse given to her. We see her riding over green fields as mountains tower and dazzle. There’s no simple solution for what she and others are experiencing. And the film is wise when it lets things unfold at their own pace.
You can tell the film is made by people who care. The riding, and the hard work and passion involved, is not overlooked. Rodeo sequences, and scenes of characters with the horses, aren’t just filler or fluff. They’re some of the best points in the film. (It’s also nice to have some solid cinematography to capture it.) This isn’t to imply that the film doesn’t have some hiccups here and there, but to say that the competence and care of the filmmakers triumphs.
Content involves a guy who buys drugs, and tries to secretly drug a young woman at a party where teens are drinking. She does not drink it, and police stop the party. This content, as well as themes of tragedy and grief, are something for viewers to be aware of before watching.
The film is positive, and could be a quiet gem for viewers who are ready for some of the themes and content. Useless is Dove-approved for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
Healing and horses are focus of positive drama, with some drug content.