The Rider

Marvel at the wide open spaces of Dakota and the rugged existence of its inhabitants in The Rider, which brings a documentary eye to a drama about broken dreams and cracked skulls amid the rodeo riders and horse trainers.

Brady is a young bronco star, but a vicious tumble leaves him with a horrific gash in his head and no future in the paddock. He has to accept his stardom is waning like the massive moon over the plains, although his best friend Lane is even worse, a cripple in rehab still trying to talk and sit up. 

Directed by Chloe Zhao, this a beautiful, observational stuff about a secret world, told with unflinching honesty and little sentimentality. There’s a memorable scene of Brady whispering an untameable colt, it’s beauty contrasted with the harshness of the strip-lit aisles of the Dakotamart where ultimately he will work, gently moving deodorant and sanitary towels onto shelves.

Horse and rider are one, and both can go lame. This wonderful, gentle film never does, though, and it’s poignantly dedicated to those who live their lives 8 seconds at a time.