No Movie Stars Were Used in the Making of this Film
“The Rider” is a drama with no big movie star names, but an actual family playing different people. They include Brady, Lilly, and Tim Jandreau. I’ve never heard of the people before, but did that stop me from going to a screening of it? No. Sony Picture Classics, the distributor of this movie, mostly has good judgement, and ” The Rider” has a lot to offer.
This shows us the dangerous side to rodeos: people can get injured during the show, and it shows us the life of a horse trainer, as well as his dreams and ambitions. The main cowboy of the film is Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau), who struggles to get on with his life after a near-fatal head injury. This is based on his true story.
Ever since he lost his mother, he has to take care of his autistic younger sister (Lilly Jandreau), who refuses to wear a bra, and to deal with his gambling addict father (Tim Jandreau), who has to sell their horse Gus to make some money. He keeps telling Brady he’s stubborn like his mother.
And he visits his rodeo friend Lane Scott, who was left paralyzed from a car accident, and communicates through sign language. Again, I’ve never heard of Scott, but seeing his scenes here are so sad, yet beautiful.
While recovering, he gets a part-time job at a local grocery store to earn some money, and he trains horses. One of the horses he trains is named Apollo, and Brady rides and buys him. However, upon riding him, Brady suffers partial complex seizures in his hands, and it literally gets to his head. His doctor tells him his rodeo days are over.
It took a while for me to understand the concept of it all, but writer/producer/director Chloe Zhao has shown us a beautiful portrait of the lives of rodeo riders. At its R-rating, we see the dangers and risks, like the cowboys falling off and injuring their heads.
The look of the film feels like an American story. The way the hero rides his horses, the way he believes in his dreams, and the way he tears about his loss of dreams. The scene when he cries in his car really gets to you. You feel his pain and sorrow, and yet, you believe in this character, despite all the medical risks. This is such fine acting from Brady Jandreau.