On the verge of documentary and fiction in The Rider movie, director Chloé Zhao witnesses the anti-chamber of the western, with this dreamy America thirsty for freedom, brought to the ground following its collision with indomitable nature.
The Rider movie critic
As a horse trainer, a rising rodeo star, young Brady sees one of his wrinkles tragically end in a head trauma during a bad fall. Riding a horse is henceforth forbidden, for his own health: The Rider is then portrayed of a cowboy bruised in his flesh and in his mind, with a stapled skull, who no longer knows what his place is both in his family but also through the environment that surrounds him. Chloe Zhao’s new film is an extraordinary work that immerses us in the rural world of North Dakota, and portrays worthy young horsemen in pain, and almost heroic in their cultural devotion as evidenced by the multiple moving appearances of Lane Scott , also a former shooting star of the rodeo.
With the modesty that already characterized her in the very beautiful The Songs that My Brothers Learned Me, Chloé Zhao films behind the scenes of an America made of plains and saving sunsets, an America in the spotlight. wanting to dominate his space with ardor, carelessness and panache but who will have to redefine himself by forgetting his own dreams. Like Lucy Walker’s documentary The Crash Reel, The Rider movie tells the tale of an addictive passion despite the existence of the accident, and an almost destructive identification with a dream. The Rider tells the story of a cowboy, unarmed and unable to show his valor with the aid of his horse. Who is he in the end?
The director delicately films a place for which she shows a lot of empathy: The Rider is not the descent into hell of a man who finds himself unable to do what he wants and whose moments of glory are only visible on old internet videos, but is the drawing of a community, out of time and socially isolated, which glorifies nature, takes refuge in their culture, and accepts the risk of being confronted with something more strong than it. Following Brady’s reluctant struggle to want to get away from the rodeo, the horses he loves so much, and the way of life he has pinned his identity on, it is awe-inspiring how Chloe Zhao immerses his character in his own. decorum: with his camera very close to the face, the body, scars when Brady finds himself in his house or in a confined space in order to show his confinement and his helplessness regarding events.
But it is when Brady passes the landing of the door, like a cowboy from the universe of John Ford, that Chloe Zhao embraces her subject, widens her staging, with her panoramic shots of a enchanting nature, to make us better understand the close link, the almost initiatory and existentialist osmosis between his character and his lands. In this portrait, the most moving does not come from the dramatic awareness of a limited future, but slips into the beauty of these scenes where Brady sets foot in the stirrup and is reborn for a moment during ‘a cavalcade on horseback.
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Since Terrence Malick or Kelly Reichardt, no one has filmed nature so well, no one has staged these lonely wanderings in the hollow of this lair of multiple mysteries so well. And this is what is so subtly special about The Rider movie, is the materialization and deconstruction of modern American myth when the vanity, of a young man who finds it difficult to accept the fact that his life will not conform to his expectations, is heartbreaking especially when you see the talent and passion he has cultivated to tame horses. Except that for Chloé Zhao, a real cowboy, is not a hothead who goes through thick and thin, but he is also a man who knows how to keep his hat on his head while understanding the importance of his present and that dreams hide elsewhere.