MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) is in a lot of pain. He is a rodeo rider who has suffered brain injury from a recent fall during a competition. In the opening scene we see him gingerly removing bandages from his head, being sure to cover his scalp while showering. He wants to get back into the game, but is having a hard time getting his right hand to operate smoothly. Although he is going to physical therapy and hoping for better days, he has to deal with his father Wayne (Tim Jandreau) who has a drinking and gambling problem, which keeps them in constant tension with their landlord and in risk of losing their trailer.
This would seem like quite a tragic tale, but it is all too common for thousands of people who live on the edge of poverty on Indian reservations. The Rider is filmed in South Dakota, on a reservation, with non-professional performers playing variations of their everyday life. Brady Jandreau is a real rodeo rider who has suffered brain injury from his career (some of the side effects are exaggerated for this film). His father Tim plays his dad in this film and his sister Lily (who is autistic) takes on a similar role in this movie. There are other actual rodeo riders in this film, including Brady’s best friend Lane Scott, whose injuries have placed him in a rehabilitation center, unable to speak.
Where do you find hope in the midst of all of these challenges? The Rider suggests that hope can be found by following your passion. In spite of his struggles, Brady still loves horses and knows how to calm a wild stallion (which we see in several unforgettable scenes). Brady also loves his sister, his father, and his friends and love is a powerful healer.
The Rider is one of those small films that deserves to be seen on a big screen. Since it quickly rode out of town (if it ever came to town at all) during a summer of blockbusters, now is the time to catch up with it at home. Brady Jandreau may have a second career as an actor – he is amazing in a movie that features him in virtually every scene.
The Rider is a spiritual film that never speaks about God or religion, but reminds us of the beauty and wonder all around us. The film is honest about the wounds that we all carry with us and the healing that takes place when we reach out to others struggling alongside of us.
This is one of the best films of the year.
Five halos: An honest film about dealing with struggle, loss and identity.
One pitchfork: Casual swearing, cowboy swagger, alcoholism, marijuana smoking – medicinal and recreational.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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