Roger EbertFull Review Excellent The best American movie this critic has seen in the past year, Chloé Zhao's "The Rider,” is the kind of rare work that seems to attain greatness through an almost alchemical fusion of nominal opposites. ...the film's style, its sense of light and landscape and mood, simultaneously give it the mesmerizing force of the most confident cinematic poetry.
Slant MagazineFull Review Above Average ...The Rider plays, strangely, more like a typical scripted drama, its performances telegraphing emotion in more predictable ways and its screenplay tightly structured. The Rider's narrative is a fairly familiar one of daredevilry and recovery...
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Young cowboy Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo
circuit and an
uniquely gifted horse trainer, is warned that his riding days are over after a
horse badly crushed
his skull at a rodeo and put him in a three-day coma.
Back home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, Brady struggles
physical and emotional complications of the accident. He is comforted by his
sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau), who has Asperger's Syndrome, while tensions
between him and his
gambling father, Wayne (Tim Jandreau) , approach a breaking point when Wayne
selling Brady's favorite horse to keep their trailer home.
With few alternatives and little desire for a different way of life, Brady feels
a growing sense of
inadequacy unable to ride and rodeo - the essentials of being a cowboy, and the
elements in his life. Frustrated, Brady starts to drift away from his rodeo
friends and spend more
time with his friend Lane (Lane Scott), who is in intensive rehab after his once
career ended in a tragic accident.
As time goes on, Brady can't stay away from his horses. He decides to start
riding and training
them again. However, the complications of his head injury soon puts him in
situations and eventually back in the hospital. After another painful loss in
his life, in an attempt
to regain control of his own fate, Brady recklessly returns to the rodeo.
Locked in a battle he can't win, Brady has to decide between healing with the
help of his family
and friends, or risking it all to keep the only sense of self he's ever known.