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Summer Movie Review: The Rider

The movie that I watched for this week’s blog was The Rider, an independent film by director, Chloe Zhao. The film’s premise centers around a rodeo rider named Brady Blackburn, who suffers a traumatic head injury and has trouble coming to terms with a new way of life, and the fact that he won’t be able to ride anymore. When I first saw a trailer for this movie, I wasn’t sure what to think and was worried I might not be able to get into it, as I’m usually not hooked into dramas centered around any type of sporting event. Plus I don’t find horses interesting. I find that these types of movies are usually cookie-cutter stories about an underdog archetype overcoming the obstacles and becoming victorious in a feel-good, “you can do anything you set your mind to” climax that usually follows some testosterone fueled speech. The Rider, did not fall into this cliche. There was no joyful contrived victory (sorry for spoiling it for you if you thought that might be where the movie was headed). It was about coming to terms with reality and learning that, rather than fighting tooth and nail for our dreams, sometimes it’s best to just slow down and take joy in the things that we don’t have to fight for.

After the long car ride back to Chesterville (I had to drive all the way to Waterville to find a theater that was playing it), I did a little research and discovered that, not only was it somewhat based off of a true story, but all of the actors in the movie were the actual people playing slightly fictionalized versions of themselves. This amazed me. It was an original idea because of how risky it was, but from my perspective, it translated to the screen perfectly. Each of the actors were able portray themselves so well for the camera, mimicking their actions emotions in way the entire movie remarkably real real. Terry Gross discussed this casting choice in an interview on NPR with the director and lead actor (I’ll leave a link to the transcript of the broadcast below). On the whole the whole the movie was incredibly sublime, beautifully shot in the countryside of South Dakota. Though the dialogue was good, there was little of it and most of the story was told through visuals, making full use of the medium. This was a truly incredible and I highly recommend it.  


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