The Rider

Horse Buck


13 April 2018| No Comments on The Rider     by Sean Chavel



Stunning in an inward way. The Rider has harsh and downhearted elements in its character study of a young South Dakota man who gets gashed in the head by his horse during one of his rodeo shows, must go on with a metal plate in his head, then refuses to give up on horses or physical activity in general despite being told it is ill-advised following head trauma. The film has also got a number of beautiful shots and fine-tuned simplicity. Brady Blackburn is the character, and he’s played by non-actor Brady Jandreau. Director Chloe Zhao happened to have met Jandreau in South Dakota while researching another project. When she heard his real story of his accident, Zhao developed the film just for him. The way it operates, it’s like life caught on the fly.

Purposefully, “The Rider” is minimalist cinema verité that drops the usual grandiosity of pain and despair that actorly actors like to relish in. Jandreau is reigned in, and his very natural existence is fascinating. Watching him tame a horse that is authentically hostile, when he rebounds to make a buck, is fascinating. There is no girlfriend character to boost his esteem or anything like that. He has a father, a sister with mental issues and a best friend who was paralyzed from working the rodeo. The South Dakota life is a desolate existence – there might be too many shots of him sleeping off the misery – but he lives for the applause when he is out on performance. His life at the least belongs to horses, and it’s a struggle to move on to anything else.

There are cutaways to nature on occasion that recall the films of Terrance Malick, and “The Rider” could have been called “To the Wonder With Horses.” It is not a fast-paced film. There are plenty of those out there, and you know where to find them. You surrender yourself to the meditative tenor of “The Rider” like you would a piece of melancholy music or a pondering novel.

There were two films about a young man and a horse this year. The other one was called “Lean on Pete.” Don’t get them confused. “The Rider” is the entrancing one you should want to see.

104 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” (1991); “8 Seconds” (1994); “The Wrestler” (2008); “Lean on Pete” (2018).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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