"Ride through the Pain”
A Review of "The Rider” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Chloe Zhao, Writer: Chloe Zhao, Starring: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau
Rating: 4 STARS, SHOWTIME
After suffering a near-fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
Call it Manifest Destiny. Call it man’s unconquerable spirit. Call it stubbornness or restlessness. Whatever you call it, since the founding of this country, man has had a desire to push west. Discovering an unruly vastness waiting for us, we set out in ego-centric attempt to tame something as unforgivable as the western United States. In the modern age, the call of the rodeo is a last desperate shot at forcing nature to bend to our will. If you have ever watched riders battle bucking bulls and broncos, you know nature doesn’t go quietly into the night.
A rodeo reveals the violent ways of nature and an unwillingness to break toward man’s desire. For many, this means lives taken in the ring or, if they are lucky, the ability to just walk away from it all. This film focuses on a cowboy who was given an opportunity to walk away with his life but finds his pride still longing for eight seconds of freedom. As the story unfolds, we discover why. His whole life has centered around horses leaving him with little prospects of moving onto something else.
The ultimate question to be answered in this film focuses on whether the small-town hero will get back in the saddle and compete. If you are looking for a Disney ending to this movie, you will need to look elsewhere. There are no rides off into the sunset surrounded by adoring fans. Instead, this a character study about a cowboy’s spirit breaking. One of the most touching moments in the film is when a horse having torn its leg up in barbwire is put down. It becomes apparent it would be cruel to let a horse live who can’t run and play. You automatically think the same thing of our main character.
“8 Seconds” captured the life of a bull rider. “Lean on Pete” captured the bond between man and horse. “The Rider” almost perfectly captures the relationship between a cowboy and competition. As it joins these other fantastic films focused on life in the west, I recommend you do everything in your power to see it.
Be good to each other,
I've never asked readers for financial support before. I am committed to keeping content on this site free and open to all. For me, this means no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what I create, please consider making a contribution on Patreon.