The Rider ★★★★½

Giving up what you love most can be painful. I’ve been wanting to see this for quite some time now, and I finally got a chance to see it. I loved the trailer that was released for the film, and along with widespread acclaim I couldn’t wait to take this movie in. This is an absolutely beautiful film both visually and from a story standpoint, and Chloé Zhao delivers one of the best films of the year. I only gathered up what I could about the film’s plot from the trailer, and although it might seem a tad unoriginal for the narrative, it’s the perspective that gives this movie its identity. Almost every single one of the characters in the film are played by themselves in real life and I didn’t realize that until the credits started rolling. Not only does that give Zhao a ton of credit from a directing standpoint, but it makes the story that much heartbreaking and beautiful. Brady Jandreau gives one of the best performances I’ve seen all year, and this guy has never acted before in his life. In fact, no one in this film has ever acted except maybe a few extras, even then I don’t think they were actors either. Everything about this film feels so authentic to the point where it makes the movie even better. Zhao delivers some of the best and most gorgeous shots I’ve seen all year, and I really hope she makes more films down the road because she is incredibly talented. We’re introduced to what goes on in Brady’s real life with his best friend Lane Scott who in real life was in an awful accident that lead to a major brain injury and loss of motor skills. These few scenes with Brady and Lane are some of the most beautiful scenes when it comes to friendship and overcoming tragedy, and it adds onto the narrative even more. I got a lot of The Wrestler vibes throughout the film, even though it was a bit different from a narrative structure, but trying to overcome adversity and doing what you love are prominent messages throughout this film. My only complaints are that it can drag a tad towards the middle, and since everyone is acting for the first time there are blemishes of poor acting. Everything from a technical level; though, is absolutely flawless and we need more Chloé Zhao films in our lives. Zhao presents one of the most stunning films of the year, along with a breakthrough performance from the amazing Brady Jandreau.

Top 20 Films of 2018