Eavesdropping at the Movies: 94 – The Rider

A contemporary Western played by non-professional actors and based closely on their real lives, The Rider is heartfelt if perhaps over-reliant on cliché. Brady is one of a group of young men in the American Midwest who ride bucking horses and bulls, risking severe injury and death, in what can be seen at once as both a vital act of keeping tradition alive and a tacit admission that the opportunities offered by America are dwindling and serve to keep people in their place. Mike describes it as “a stupid sport”.

José sees a kinship with American Animals in its portrayal of young American men with no sex lives or apparent interest in sex lives and also part of a long cycle of films that mourn the idea of America, a subject which he was written on extensively  in this blog; Mike believes it’s a film that will flatter those who like to pride themselves on seeing “quality” cinema. There are scenes of beauty, including those with a former rider profoundly injured and restricted to life in an assisted living facility – Brady’s love for his friend, expressed throughout the film, is touching. And the horse wrangling is simply spectacular and worth it for its own sake.

A film with deep flaws, an indulgence in cliché, a great visual debt to the Western and a too easy acceptance of its structures of feeling, particularly in a world with so little place for them. Nonetheless, The Rider also has extraordinary sequences with flashes of beauty.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

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