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film review

Brady Jandreu as Brady Blackburn in The Rider.Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel Media

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars
  • The Rider
  • Written and directed by: Chloé Zhao
  • Starring: Brady Jandreau
  • Classification 14A
  • 104 minutes

Whether it’s riding a wild stallion or outgrowing a relationship, the feeling of abandoning the very thing that used to define you is bittersweet. Chloé Zhao’s The Rider concerns the plight of Brady Blackburn (first-time performer Brady Jandreau), a young cowboy who is forced to let go of his rodeo-riding dream after a near-fatal head injury.

Jandreau, acting opposite his real-life family members and friends, disappears into a role largely based on his own experiences, oozing empathy from his pores. The beautiful cinematography captures the story in striking, magic-hour landscapes and vistas of South Dakota. Armed with an intimate tale and the true grit of Jandreau’s teeth, The Rider is the best film about searching for a new identity in the wreckage of the American dream since Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008). It is here to break your heart.