The Rider

April 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Posted in 2018 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

I had two moments that hit like lightening during this film. First, I watch the lead character, Brady Blackburn, taming a horse. As I watched, I noticed the horse’s eyes and suddenly realized, “this horse isn’t ‘acting.’ This horse is genuinely wild and getting tamed right in front of me.” The second moment came when Brady visited his friend Lane Scott in rehab. Lane, a former Bronco rider, has been severely disabled in an accident. Watching him, and seeing video of his pre-accident, I realized he was also not acting. This person on screen had really ridden horses and is now really disabled. As it turns out, he is also really named Lane Scott. Scott had been an up-and-coming star in the bronco circuit before being severely disabled in 2013. In fact, Brady Blackburn turns out to be Brady Jandreau in real life. He was also a rising bronco star before a horse bucked him and stepped on his head. This film is the somewhat fictionalized version of his life story, and it seems that everyone is pretty much playing themselves. The father and sister in the film are his real life family. Everyone’s character has her/his own first name. Some family names have been changed, but all of Brady’s rodeo friends are playing themselves. This explains why the dialogue can sometimes feel clunky; these are not professional actors. But, that is more than made up for by the clear love and connection these people feel for each other. Jandreau is not an actor but, for this role, he did not need to be. There are many moments where the character Brady clearly blurs with the Brady playing him. In those moments, his emotions are so present and real and touching. Just like we watched Jandreau really tame a horse on screen, we are given the privilege of watching him tame his own ghosts as well. This is as close to a documentary as fiction can get. Visually and emotionally stunning, this is one of the best films I am likely to see this year.

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