Dan Says THE RIDER Is A Raw And Touching Look At The Rodeo.

Share Button

FILM REVIEW: THE RIDER

BY DAN SKIP ALLEN

Brady, played by Brady Jandreau, has a rough time waking up in the morning due to his head injury. He drinks some water, pulls his stitches out with a knife and wraps his head in plastic while taking a shower. This is the stark reality of what Brady has been through while doing what he loves, rodeo riding, in The Rider.

My family and I lived in a city so being around horses was not something we were accustomed to. I am a big sports fan and the sports I’m most familiar with are football, basketball, baseball and hockey. They all have a similar chance of involving  injury in them. Rarely do athletes have a chance at having surgery on your head or ending up as a paraplegic like Rodeo Riding does. We see Brady meet with a group of friends at a bonfire and they all have some sort of injury. “It’s all the same to a cowboy” one of the boys says. This illustrates clearly the importance of this sport to the people of this town, but also how dangerous it can be, even to those raised in it.

The Rider is based on a true story and the actors are members of Brady’s family. The drama seems real because it is real. Director Chloe Zhao shows a side of life that’s very raw, it touches something in the audience. This is her second film. The style of filmmaking is very similar. She uses real life people to portray characters that are very similar to themselves and their lives. The Rider is about rodeo riding and training horses,  Songs My Brothers Taught Me is about indians living on a reservation. It is relatable even to those that aren’t familiar with the location, the rodeo, or the masculine culture. This is a hard life for these people. Set on a South Dakota reservation the landscape seems like another character in the film. The cinematography at times is breathtaking. This is the second film about horses I’ve seen in as many weeks. Given the level of cinematic brilliance here I hope for many more to come. Especially if it’s as good as this film.

The transition from rodeo riding to training horses is where the film and Mr. Jandreau really come into their stride. Brady comes to the conclusion that he can’t continue to risk his health and needs to make a change. He doesn’t want to end up like his friend who is a paraplegic in the hospital. Tanner Jandreau, Brady’s real-life brother portrays his friend. He visits and helps him but he knows he can’t continue down this road. It is too hard to watch what Tanner is enduring every day of his life, a result of being bucked by a bull. Brady turns to training wild untamed horses instead of riding them in the rodeo. Watching him do this is enthralling, he is naturally talented.

Brady’s father Tim and Sister Lilly are the only family he has but, they are as dysfunctional a family as you get. Lilly has asperger’s syndrome which makes her hard to handle and there father is gone for long stretches of time doing who know what. This means Brady shoulders the primary responsibility to provide for the family and care for his sister. He gets a job at the local grocery store while he’s mending up from his injuries. A totally different sort of job than what he is used to and one that he clearly has no interest in. Taking walks with Lilly helps him bond  with her. They still have problems with their father though a cinematic trend in many hollywood movies.Big Brothers or sisters taking care of the siblings is common in many films as well. It helps drive the narrative forward, but also helps the audience care more for the plight of the character.

Brady’s decisions are so vital to him. He has so much riding on what he does. He has to think for others besides himself. His injury doesn’t make matters any better for him either. All the other characters make things more conflicting for him. He has so much riding on what he does every day. Should he continue his rodeo riding career or take care of is his sister and friend in the hospital. This is the whole weight of this story. These real people portraying these characters convey the harsh life they live. Nobody could do a better job than the people who live this life. This is as raw a story about people living in world as you will find. Chloe Zhao really captured this world and these people to a tee.

FINAL WORD: