Run time: 103 mins
Tender and thought-provoking, The Rider explores self-definition and precarious dreams within the South Dakota rodeo circuit.
Chloé Zhao’s critically-acclaimed film is a quasi-documentary, seamlessly blending fiction and non-fiction, as the cast play versions of themselves. Despite having no prior acting experience under his leather belt, Brady Jandreau’s performance is exceptional, infusing authenticity into the film no trained actor could recreate. Based on his life as a bronco rider, we are introduced to Brady Blackburn (Jandreau) after his riding accident, leaving him with a near-fatal head injury. Warned by doctors that he may not survive another fall, Brady is conflicted between his dreams of success in the saddle and its perilous reality. Pressured by his dad (Tim Jandreau) to “man up! Be a cowboy!”, Brady’s position as a star rider not only forms his identity, but provides an opportunity to financially support his unstable father and sweet younger sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau). Yet the risks are evident during his visit to lifelong friend and bull rider, Lane Scott (played by himself) whose own accident has left him paralysed. Through Zhao’s compassionate vision, The Rider questions how we give life meaning and the sacrifices this may entail. (research Rachel Williams) Same yarn, different saddle? Come and see.