The highly touted indie drama The Rider is a good representation of where the majority of independent cinema lives in this day and age. Like many films of its kind, it’s devoid of character/story arcs and dramatic conflict, elements that I’ve always assumed were the essential building blocks of good filmmaking. There are a few good scenes to be found in The Rider that actually manage to stay with you but it’s a case of several good scenes vainly in search of a movie. You just wish for the overall story to be compelling enough to keep things interesting at those times when the film hits a dull stretch, which is quite often.

The Rider relates the true tale of a former rodeo star Brady Blackburn, who’s wondering where his life is headed after he suffers a traumatic injury that forces him out of the world he’s always known. The character is, more or less, based on the life of the actor who plays him, Brady Jandreau. The film opens with Brady nursing a head injury that he’s recently received and then moves forward several months later as he contemplates his next move. There are endless scenes where friends egg him on to get back in the ring that grow tiresome very quickly. And the depiction of his home life with his horse trainer father almost borders on stereotypical. There’s definitely a subject ripe for a good movie in The Rider. Unfortunately, director Chloe Zhao never seems to find it.

The Rider is not playing in the area at press time.

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