Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
“The Rider” is a quiet, contemplative, and sorrowful neo-western. It follows rising rodeo star Brady Blackburn, who can´t ride anymore, after his skull was crushed in an accident. What would you do, if you lost the one thing that was your big passion and the center of your self-image? How would you cope with it? Those are the questions Brady has to face on his introspective journey, which explores themes such as identity, self-worth, family, masculinity, social expectations, pride, purpose, dreams, passion, loss, self-destruction, change, acceptance, and moving on.
The film is simple, honest, heartfelt, and patient. The plot is uneventful and a bit meandering, but it has a quiet power and I love how it lingers on character moments. I think I would get more out of this, if I were more interested in riding/rodeo, but Brady´s struggles and insecurities are universal enough to be resonating, nonetheless. The use of non-professional actors and the fact that Brady Blackburn´s story is based on Brady Jandreau´s own experiences give the movie a sense of raw authenticity. Brady´s inner turmoil is so impactful and devastating, because it´s real. His film family is played by his real family (with the difference that his real mother is alive) and the sweet brother/sister relationship is actually the aspect that moved me the most.
Other strengths of the movie include the engrossing mood, stunning cinematography, and fantastic visual storytelling. All in all, the film is not particularly groundbreaking or mind-blowing, but it has a lot of soul. It´s tender, empathetic, and heart-wrenching.
P.S. This whole story reminds me of the book that makes Rick Dalton tear up in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.