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THE RIDER

THE RIDER

Chloé Zhao · USA · 2017 · 104 mins · PG
AwardsIMDbMetaCritic 92Rotten Tomatoes 97%

Viewers of Chloé Zhao’s intense, elegiac The Rider could easily assume they are watching a documentary. They aren’t, but what they see isn’t entirely fictional, either. This meditation on the life of a severely injured rodeo rider is a kind of hybrid, fact and fiction mixed in such a way that the two deepen and extend each other.
The main character, Brady, is a young rodeo cowboy of Lakota heritage who was trampled by a horse during competition. He has a steel plate in his head and has been told that his riding days are through. The character’s name is Brady Blackburn, and he is portrayed by Brady Jandreau, a non-actor who suffered the same accident with the same results.
Zhao discovered Brady on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is a natural, and we come to feel deeply about his struggles to come to terms with the loss of not only his livelihood, but also of his identity and sense of self-worth.
Gorgeous images of the Dakota landscape are suffused with melancholy as Brady quietly ponders his few options. The movie is a rendering of the internal landscape of a contemporary cowboy, with the complexities and ambiguities left intact.

–San Francisco Chronicle

“A GRITTY, GRACEFUL CHARACTER STUDY.  ONCE THE RIDER HOOKS YOU -- AND, BELIEVE ME, IT WILL -- THERE'S NO WAY YOU WILL EVER FORGET IT."  –Rolling Stone
“Comes as close to a spiritual experience as anything I’ve encountered in a movie theater this year.” –Los Angeles Times
“A vision that is deeply humanistic, founded on a compassionate realism.” –RogerEbert.com
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