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The rider
2018
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After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. - (Sony Pictures Home Enter)

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Chinese-born writer-director Chloé Zhao obviously feels a deep affinity for America's heartland, introducing intriguing, offbeat Native American characters in this evocative, empathetic, elegiac, contemporary Western set on the desolate, poverty-stricken Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The Rider tells the melancholy story of Sioux cowboy Brady Jandreau—playing a version of himself as Brady Blackburn. After a near-death rodeo injury leaves him with a metal plate in his head, neurological seizures in his hand, and under a doctor's order never to ride again, stoic Brady must decide what to do with his life, being deprived not only of his one true passion but also of the family's primary source of income. Living in a rented trailer, Brady's taciturn, alcoholic/gambler dad Wayne (Tim Jandreau) has no money, and his ebullient little sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau) suffers from a birth defect which has limited her intellectual capabilities. Brady's mom died of cancer years earlier. Adding to Brady's dilemma, his best friend Lane (Lane Scott) is institutionalized with severe disabilities from his own rodeo injuries (the pair watch rodeo videos together for hours). Determined to help Lane, who is unable to speak, Brady devises a physical therapy exercise, hoisting his buddy onto a saddle, so he can hold onto the reins on an imaginary horseback ride. Horses are and have been Brady's life; to risk another head injury could be fatal, but that's all Brady knows. The actors are all non-professional, portraying fictionalized versions of themselves in this fine docudrama. Highly recommended. (S. Granger). Copyright Video Librarian Reviews 2018.

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