The Rider

A film by Chloé Zhao. Inn eng­lish with ger­man subtitles.

A hor­se’s pur­po­se is to run in the prai­ries; a cow­boy’s is to ride.” So, what does a cow­boy beco­me when he can no lon­ger ride? This is the ques­ti­on at the cent­re of Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, and the defi­ning con­flict for its prot­ago­nist, Brady Blackburn. A skil­led rodeo cow­boy and hor­se trai­ner, Brady suf­fers a near-fatal acci­dent that abrupt­ly halts his care­er and for­ces him to con­tem­pla­te what a new life could look like.

The abi­li­ty to ride defi­nes a man’s worth in Brady’s world. Though riding and hor­ses are never far from his thoughts, Brady now spends his days working at the local super­mar­ket and his nights drin­king with his bud­dies. With his mother gone and with a bor­der­line alco­ho­lic father with a gamb­ling pro­blem, Brady finds hims­elf respon­si­ble­for his 15-year-old sis­ter, Lilly. With his limi­ted edu­ca­ti­on, money and local fame may seem easiest to come by in the world of rodeo, but so are inju­ry and even death.

Returning to the docu­dra­ma tech­ni­que that ear­ned her debut fea­ture, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, cri­ti­cal acc­laim, Zhao inte­gra­tes the real lives of her actors into her sto­ry­tel­ling. Majestically cap­tu­red by Joshua James Richards‘ inti­ma­te pho­to­gra­phy, the dus­ty, expan­si­ve land­s­capes pro­vi­de the can­vas for Zhao’s art. Stoic and fearless with a rare sen­se of authen­ti­ci­ty, she embraces the huma­ni­ty of its cha­rac­ters and explo­res defi­ni­ti­ons of mas­cu­lini­ty without glo­ri­fi­ca­ti­on or judgment. The Rider is less a wes­tern than a film about the real American west.

USA 2017, 104 Min., engl. OmU
Regie: Chloé Zhao
Kamera: Joshua James Richards

Schnitt: Alex O’Flinn
Darsteller: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lily Jandreau, Lane Scott

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