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THE RIDER SPEC D: Chloé Zhao. USA. 103.
THE RIDER SPEC D: Chloé Zhao. USA. 103 min. Sep 9, 9:45 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Sep 11, 4:15 pm, Scotiabank 4. Rating: NNN
A young horseman (Brady Jandreau) tries to resume his old life after suffering a devastating head injury in writer/producer/director Zhao’s latest examination of masculinity and self-image in the modern West.
Casting non-actors as versions of themselves – Jandreau acts opposite his real father and sister – Zhao situates the story in a fully lived-in world. And the story’s arc is clear and engaging.
But as the movie goes on, Zhao’s decision to work with non-professionals seems more and more limiting: the Jandreaus, and several other performers, are entirely convincing as rodeo cowboys and horse trainers, but they struggle with their dialogue and the film’s larger metaphor. And that’s a problem The Rider never really resolves.