The Rider

The Rider ★★★★

Boasts the best cinematography of the year thus far and a quietly beautiful authenticity that allows the story to resonate. Zhao embraces the landscape and her main character’s place in it, drawing on the central contradiction constantly weighing him down: namely, the idea that embracing the thing that defines him could end up being his most fatal decision. Zhao doesn’t idealize the situation through a macho “fight through it” lens, nor does she wallow in misery and fatalism. Instead, she appreciates and respects the highs and lows of the human experience, finding a glimmer of hope in the loss of a dream and the long, arduous, and yet rewarding walk toward the future.

B+

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