The Rider

Director: Chloe Zhao
Screenwriters: Chloe Zhao

Institute History

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival


After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, The Rider has now been nominated for four Film Independent Spirit Awards, including best feature. Chloé Zhao’s follow-up to Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015 Sundance Film Festival) is another outstanding drama documenting life on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Brady (Brady Jandreau) is a rising rodeo star suffering from a traumatic head injury sustained in the ring. Though he longs to climb back in the saddle, Brady finds himself torn between the macho allure of cowboy life and obligations to his widowed father and autistic sister (both played by Jandreau’s real-life family members). During visits with Lane—a paraplegic ex-rodeo star—and amid struggles to train an ornery horse, Brady is forced to face a life outside of the ring.

Zhao’s expressive use of color and composition captures the crackling campfires and lonely beauty of the desert landscape, refiguring the masculine tropes of the western. Anchored by Jandreau’s vulnerable, moving performance, The Rider balances vérité naturalism with lyrical images to craft an introspective elegy for a vanishing way of life.

— M.C.

Screening Details

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