The Rider Movie Review
When you don’t have a high school education, your only talent is riding a bucking bull for 8 seconds, and you have a traumatic brain injury as a result, you’ll find you’re shit out of luck. So it goes in the contemplative drama The Rider, based on a true story.
Brady Jandreau turns in a great performance as a young cowboy who must rediscover himself after an accident leaves him unable to ride. Pressured by his friends and community, and his own limited experiences, he debates returning to the rodeo against doctors’ orders--and potentially a deadly decision.
Written and directed by Chloe Zhao, The Rider is a beautifully crafted character study that explores modern masculinity juxtaposed against a world where masculinity is still defined by “manning it up.” The scenes with Brady and his friends are most jarring, seemingly innocent and even fun sequences dashed by tragic undertones of limited opportunities and peer pressure.
But it is Jandreau, paired with Zhao’s screenplay, that makes The Rider work so well. It isn’t riveting drama, but it’s a solidly told story with strong performances and resonating themes.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.