US / 104 min / Colour / Caviar, Highwayman Films Dir: Chloé Zhao Pro: Chloé Zhao, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Mollye Asher Scr: Chloé Zhao Cin: Joshua James Richards Mus: Nathan Halpern Cast: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Lane Scott, Cat Clifford Synopsis: After a tragic riding accident, young cowboy Brady (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned that his competition days are over. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Release dates: Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight) 20 May 2017; France: 28 March 2018; USA: 13 April 2018; Spain: 21 September 2018. IMDb Rating: 7.5.
Plot Summary: Once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, Brady is warned that his competition days are over after a tragic riding accident. Back home, he finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Back home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, he struggles with the physical and emotional complications of the accident. He is comforted by his inimitable little sister Lilly, who has Aspergers Syndrome, yet tensions between Brady and his gambling father, Wayne, is reaching a breaking point when Wayne resorts to selling Brady’s favourite horse, to keep their trailer home.
The Rider is a 2017 American contemporary western drama film written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao and stars a real-life Lakota Sioux Bronc rider Brady Jandreau and his actual sister Lilly Jandreau and father Tim Jandreau playing versions of themselves. The film was shot in the badlands of South Dakota. It premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2017, where it won the Art Cinema Award, and at Sundance Film Festival 2018. It was released in theatres in the United States on April 13, 2018.
My take: This week Begoña and I went to see The Rider, a 2017 film, written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao. The Rider is very close of being a documentary film and, sometimes, it can turn out to be boring because of an overly elemental story wherein nothing relevant happens. Even so, the audience’s patience will be rewarded as it was in my case. When leaving the cinema I ended up with the sense of having seen quite an impressing film, despite some shortcomings. What I most liked, is that it offers an opposite response to the idea that all our dreams may come true. That all our dreams can be achieved if pursued with determination is a false mantra of western civilisation. Much more true is the phrase in the film that more or less says: in life one must deal with the cards that have been given. Furthermore, almost everything in the film is real. The main characters, as most of the characters are non-professionals and, even though if this provides a genuine touch to the film, in my view it would have been much better to have employed professional actors for some secondary characters. In a nutshell, a film that for my liking falls short of being a masterpiece, but that it gets pretty close. A honest, sincere and touching film which doesn’t fall into sentimentality and that may not be for the taste of everyone, but which is well worth seeing.
Chloé Zhao Biography: Born in Beijing Chloé Zhao currently resided in the United States. She studied Political Science at Mount Holyoke College and Film Production at NYU. Her 2015 feature debut Songs My Brother Taught Me premiered in US Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for three 2016 Independent Spirit Awards. Among The Rider’s honours are the Cannes Film Festival’s C.I.C.A.E. award, the Golden Athena at the Athens Film Festival, and a Grand Special Prize at the Deauville Film Festival.