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  • Don Ford

Don Reviews "The Rider"

You are probably aware I was born in Sheridan Wyoming, and a big part of the culture up there revolves around the rodeo. I have been to many of them and admire those who try to make a living working that circuit. But just like any physical career path, what happens if you get badly injured? With the average NFL career lasting less than three years, a large number of players wind up broke and/or alone in a short time afterwards. When you add the unpredictability of an angry animal like a bull or a horse, the risk is even higher.

“The Rider” written and directed by Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brothers Taught Me). Starring Brady, Tim, and Lilly Jandreau alongside Cat Clifford, Terri Dawn Pourier, Lane Scott, Tanner Calhoon, and Derrick Janis, it is the story of Brady (Brady Jandreau), a top rodeo bronco rider and horse trainer in South Dakota. During a rodeo event, he suffers a head injury that requires him to have a metal plate in his skull and sidelines him indefenitely. With a father who cannot overcome his demons and a sister who has Asperger’s Syndrome, he must face very difficult decisions at a young age while coming to terms with the sharp turn his path takes.

This film truly shows the Mid-West States beautifully, along with the rodeos and auction houses to give the feel of the lifestyle a cowboy. The filming style is kind of gritty but it enhances the film well. The interesting part her is that the cast is not actors in the traditional sense, as the characters are actually fictionalized versions of the true cowboys, their families, and friends. While working on “Songs My Brother Taught Me,” Brady taught Zhao how to ride horses, and she was so fascinated with him that she wanted to use him in a film. After he got injured in real life, she chose to take his actual story and turn it into this film, giving it a documentary feel as well.

To the plot and storyline, I am a little conflicted. It is good overall, but it is also too long and slow moving as molasses in Wisconsin in the middle of winter at many points. I like realism of what happens when injury happens and the will of trying to get past it, but twenty minutes could have easily been cut out. Because of this, I will still recommend this film but only as Redbox Rental.

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