The Rider

The Rider ★★★★★

Apparently all that’s needed for me to love a film this year is to make it about a sad boy and a horse. I really loved Lean On Pete but this is even better. The agonising contrast between destroying yourself solely for the briefest moments of highs versus the reality that you’ll have to live with that destruction and pain and never find that elation again for the rest of your life. This is such a beautiful but sad film. The exterior shots provoke the images of traditional western heroes; either when the score heightens and Brady’s riding while framed in a hero shot, or even better when Zhao shoots from afar, using a long lens to frame Brady in silhouette, cowboy hat and all, barely visible against the backdrop of a blushing sky. It’s the image he wishes he could reach out and grab but it’s like a mirage in the desert; fading away having never really been there. I think it’s a mark of a great film when peripheral characters with no more than a few scenes feel innately fleshed out and important cogs in the story. This is Brady’s tale but the weight of the world on the people around him is so palpable. There’s always a glimmer of hope amid very trying circumstances, which just makes it so devastating when much of the film revolves around Brady (and others) having to come to terms with the fact that the thing they love to do, were perhaps born to do, the thing that they’ve killed themselves for, has snatched their lives away and left them a shell of their former selves, unable to know what to do, or how to live. I was truly weeping at the end. The past dissolving into the ether and dreams that were at one point tangible now falling back into the realm of the unconscious. Quietly devastating and inimitably profound.

Kurdt liked these reviews