The Rider (film)

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The Rider
The Rider.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChloé Zhao
Produced by
  • Mollye Asher
  • Sacha Ben Harroche
  • Chloé Zhao
Written byChloé Zhao
  • Brady Jandreau
  • Lilly Jandreau
  • Tim Jandreau
  • Lane Scott
  • Cat Clifford
Music byNathan Halpern
CinematographyJoshua James Richards
Edited byAlex O'Flinn
  • Caviar
  • Highwayman Films
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • May 20, 2017 (2017-05-20) (Cannes)
  • April 13, 2018 (2018-04-13) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.4 million[1]

The Rider is a 2017 American contemporary western drama film written, produced and directed by Chloé Zhao. The film stars Brady Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lane Scott, and Cat Clifford and was shot in the badlands of South Dakota. It premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2017,[2][3] where it won the Art Cinema Award.[4] It was released in theaters in the United States on April 13, 2018.


Brady lives in financial poverty with his father Wayne and his younger sister Lilly, who has autism. Once a rising star in the rodeo circuit, Brady suffers brain damage from an accident at a bronc riding competition, hindering motor functions in his right hand and leaving him prone to seizures. Doctors have told him he can no longer ride, or else his seizures will get worse.

Brady regularly visits his friend Lane, who lives in a care facility after suffering severe brain damage from a similar bullriding accident. Meanwhile, his dad does little to take care of the family, wasting their money away on drinking and gambling. To help keep their trailer, he sells away their horse, Gus, much to Brady’s infuriation. Brady, in return, gets a job as a store clerk to help try to raise money for the family.

He also makes a small living breaking horses. With his savings, he wants to buy a new horse but his father buys it for him and he forms a very strong bond with him, like he had with Gus in the past. However, his constant horse riding and refusal to rest with his brain injury cause him to have a near-fatal seizure. Doctors warn him that if he does not quit riding, he could die. Upon returning home, Brady finds that his horse attemped to escape the fence, permanently injuring one of his legs. Knowing that the horse will never be able to be ridden ever again, he has to ask his father to put him down, after not being able to bring himself to do it.

After an argument breaks out with his father, Brady decides to compete in a rodeo competition despite the doctor’s warnings. At the competition, before he is about to go next, he spots his father and sister watching him. He finally decides to walk away from the competition and, presumably, his life as a rodeo rider.


  • Brady Jandreau as Brady Blackburn
  • Tim Jandreau as Wayne Blackburn
  • Lilly Jandreau as Lilly Blackburn
  • Cat Clifford as Cat Clifford
  • Terri Dawn Pourier as Terri Dawn Pourier
  • Lane Scott as Lane Scott
  • Tanner Langdeau as Tanner Langdeau
  • James Calhoon as James Calhoon


Sony Pictures Classics acquired the distribution rights in the U.S. and other territories two days following its premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 147 reviews, and an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Rider's hard-hitting drama is only made more effective through writer-director Chloé Zhao's use of untrained actors to tell the movie's fact-based tale."[6] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 92 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[7]

Godfrey Cheshire of gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, writing that its "style, its sense of light and landscape and mood, simultaneously give it the mesmerizing force of the most confident cinematic poetry."[8] Sarah Melton of Exclaim! gave the film an 8 out of 10 score, writing that the film "confirms [Zhao's] penchant for both the visually stunning and the deeply human."[9]


Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature The Rider Nominated [10]
Best Director Chloé Zhao Nominated
Best Editing Alex O'Flinn Nominated
Best Cinematography Joshua James Richards Nominated


  1. ^ "The Rider (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "Fortnight 2017: The 49th Directors' Fortnight Selection". Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  3. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (April 19, 2016). "Cannes: Juliette Binoche-Gerard Depardieu Drama to Kick Off Directors Fortnight". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  4. ^ Hopewell, John (May 26, 2017). "Cannes: Chloe Zhao's 'The Rider' Tops Cannes' Directors' Fortnight". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  5. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (May 23, 2017). "Cannes: Sony Pictures Classics Buys Cowboy Drama 'The Rider' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  6. ^ "The Rider (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "The Rider Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Cheshire, Godfrey (April 13, 2018). "The Rider". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Melton, Sarah (April 25, 2018). "The Rider". Exclaim!. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 21, 2017). "Spirit Award Nominations: 'Call Me By Your Name', 'Lady Bird', 'Get Out', 'The Rider', 'Florida Project' Best Pics". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 30, 2017.

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