Director Billy Bob Thornton explores coming of age in this Western based on Cormac McCarthy's prize-winning novel of the same name. John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) are young Texan men who seek a more fulfilling life as cowboys in the slowly fading Old West, circa 1949. One night, the duo head for Mexico in hope of finding some adventure and employment, and along the way run into Blevins (Lucas Black), an even younger drifter who has supposedly stolen a horse from private property. Begrudgingly, Cole and Rawlins take him under their wing before they eventually find themselves in Mexico, working for a wealthy landowner (Ruben Blades). His stalwart and beautiful daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz) develops a romantic interest in Cole, which threatens the friendship between him and Rawlins, not to mention their living quarters, where Alejandra's watchful aunt (Miriam Colon) warns Cole that she has professed allegiance to her. Cole and Rawlins' thrill-seeking adventures with Blevins and the stolen horse catch up to them, however, and they are held prisoners in a brutal penitentiary, where their cowboy instincts are put to the ultimate test. Cole, meanwhile, wants nothing more than to get back to Alejandra and resume their love affair. The film also features Bruce Dern in a small role as a judge who eventually gives much-desired guidance to Cole.