Friday, April 13, 2018

Movie with Abe: The Rider

The Rider
Directed by Chloe Zhao
Released April 13, 2018

Where someone grows up can have an enormous impact on who that person becomes. Countries and areas of the world instill different values in their societies, which their residents may either embrace or rebel against, contributing to the development of who they are. Even within a country like the United States, the way people live and what they do can vary greatly by the influences of politics, climate, and general interests of a state or region. For those swept up by a phenomenon of their area, it can be difficult if not impossible to separate from that which ends up being in a person’s blood.

Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) is a rodeo star who has recently suffered a serious head injury. Despite doctor’s orders to stay off horses, Brady finds himself immersed in that world, unable to escape it in his daily life and not content to sit on the sidelines. Visits with a friend who suffered an accident that left him unable to speak or move freely show him what his future could be, but the knowledge of what fate could befall him almost propels him more towards making the most of what he loves to do while he still can.

This is a film that feels extraordinarily genuine. Its South Dakota setting provides plenty of scenery and a fitting backdrop for its horses and their rodeo shows. All the actors portray characters either with the same names as them or with slight variations, capturing the feel of what it’s like to live this life. This story could take place at any moment in history, and the fact that Brady has a video of his accident on his smartphone is one of the only modern identifiers that places it in the present. The timeless tenderness of the experience shines through more than any current elements possibly could.

This film earned multiple Independent Spirit Awards this past year, competing with a number of the top Oscar movies, and it has enjoyed successful runs at the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest before finally making it to American theaters. The authenticity of this film, with naturalistic performances and a true heart, make it well worth seeing. It may not be a fast-paced or overly energizing watch, but it accomplishes exactly what it wants to in a formidable and extremely compelling way.


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