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The long-term effects of head injuries in the context of professional sports have received much attention over the past decade. The Rider gives a voice and a glimpse into that issue from the perspective of a contemporary rodeo drama.

Brady Blackburn sustains a head injury after being thrown in the rodeo ring. He must come to terms with the risks of continuing to ride, his dream of a future on the circuit, and the effects of riding injuries on his friend Lane Scott.

Chloe Zhao, the film’s writer and director, was inspired to tell this story after meeting the real-life Brady Jandreau. She has created an authentic film, from the grittiness of harsh words to the enduring love and support of family and friends. The film is shot on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and Zhao chose non-actors Jandreau and Scott to play fictionalized versions of themselves. She also cast Brady’s real-life father, Tim, and sister, Lilly.

Peter Keough of The Boston Globe wrote, “This film achieves what cinema is capable of at its best.” Recommended for high school audiences and beyond, the film offers much to ponder and discuss. On disc now. (Sony Classics)

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