Brady Blackburn, the rider of the title, is played by real-life rodeo rider Brady Jandreau, who was thrown from a horse in 2016. His head was grazed by a hoof, fracturing his skull. Now, the onscreen Brady deals with the aftermath. With metal stitches holding his skull together, he is told he can no longer ride, bringing his identity into question. At the same time, Brady’s father Wayne (Tim Jandreau) must sell the family horse to make ends meet, and Brady’s sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau), who has an intellectual disability, must be looked after. (Note: Lilly is Brady’s real-life sister and Tim is their real-life father.) Brady lands a job stacking shelves in a store, which he does with purpose. A young rodeo fan spots him among the brightly-lit aisles and asks for an autograph. Brady encourages the lad, although buried in the deepest regions of his action is an unbearable sadness, regret and perhaps even rage. San Francisco Examiner
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Showings of this film are part of our Cinematheque season which is supported by the British Film Institute.
“Chloé Zhao’s new film The Rider does an extraordinary thing. It immerses us in the world of rural North Dakota, and portrays young bronco riders without a hint of condescension. This is achieved, primarily, by allowing the cowboys to play themselves; and with an always empathetic eye, she probes the masculine trappings of this dangerous world, with sensitivity and deeply moving grace.” The Upcoming
“Zhao achieves a lovely balance between unflinching realism and the hauntingly lyrical. The grit and poverty of life on the reservation make a striking contrast with the film’s more meditative, expressive passages, as Brady dreams of the freedom of life on horseback. Much of The Rider has been shot at magic hour, and it’s hard not to be overcome by the splendor of the landscape. Movies that blend real life and fiction usually foreground the docu-style realism, using the poetry as grace notes or punctuation. Zhao privileges both, and in so doing creates a work of heartbreaking beauty.” The Village Voice