“The Rider” is a tale of cinematic poetry



Brady looks off into the distance

Dennis Lopez, Staff writer

Taking home the coveted “Art Cinema Award” at the Cannes Festival, “The Rider” brings attention to a pocket of Americana not yet corroded.

The plot of “The Rider” is heavily based on actual events with director-writer, Chloé Zhao taking few liberties in adapting real life events to film. Brady, a promising young rodeo cowboy, has his skull stomped by a stallion. After getting a steel plate placed in his skull, he’s told by doctors he can never ride again.

Where “The Rider” draws much of its strength is in how grounded, vulnerable, and sincere the film is. The vulnerability and sincerity is rooted in the fact that all of the actors are untrained and are the actual people from the events the film is based on. Brady’s father and sister are played by his actual family. So, every person in the film are essentially relieving events they’ve already gone through.

The other support beam of “The Rider” is Zhao’s collaboration with cinematographer Joshua James Richards. Richards and Zhao take full advantage of the natural beauty of the prairies and spires of Badlands National park overlapping with Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The combination of scenery and vulnerability serve to perfectly bring forth the quiet desperation that comes with having the spark snatched from Brady. This isn’t a tale of a cowboy riding off into the sunset; this is the tale a person losing their purpose and looking for catharsis.

“The Rider” is out now in select theaters.