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The Rider | 2018 | R | - 2.6.7

A rising rodeo star (Brady Jandreau) suffers a serious head injury in a fall from a horse and his doctors warn him that his riding days are over. At home, on his ranch, he begins training horses again but begins to wonder about his life's new purpose. Also with Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Cat Clifford and Lane Scott. Directed by Chloé Zhao. Two phrases are spoken in an Oglala Sioux language and are not translated. [1:45]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A woman hugs a younger man. A man smiles toward and flirts with a 15-year-old brain-injured girl, twirling her in a swivel chair until her brother pulls the man from his seat and knocks him away.
 A teenage girl argues with her father about not wanting to wear a bra; he buys one for her and she cuts it up to use for artwork (we do not see the finished art).
 A shirtless man is shown several times and we see tattoos on his side and shoulder. A man in a shower scene is seen from the waist up (his bare chest, back and shoulders are shown). A woman wears a sleeveless, low-cut T-shirt that reveals moderate cleavage that bounces as she walks.

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VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - A man draws a pistol and tells another man to walk away and whistle for a horse as the first man points the gun between the animal's eyes; we hear a shot and the animal falls with a loud thud off-screen (we see the horse lying on its side with its back to the camera). A man finds a broken barbed wire fence with horse hair on it and sees a pool of blood in the grass before finding a horse with a large bloody, open gash on its leg (blood has streamed down the leg to the hoof); the horse neighs and pulls away as the man touches the leg and the horse's head, and says, "Sorry buddy" and takes out his pistol, aiming it between the horse's eyes but he cannot shoot because the horse shakes its head.
 A slow motion dream sequence shows a horse at night in close-ups of an eye, nose, feet running, and tail, as we hear hard rain and thunder off-screen; the camera cuts to a man startled awake and is shown with a long scar across his eyebrow and a large bandage across the shaved skull from behind his ear to the middle of the back of his head. A man uses a hunting knife to pull out several bloody staples and removes a bandage on his head, which has a strip of blood in the middle from end to end (we see some blood on his skull along a healing surgical incision); he wraps his head in plastic wrap so he can shower.
 A flashback and video footage show a man on a bucking horse fall off, hit his head on the ground, and lie motionless. In several scenes in a man's house we see a TV running silent footage of a man on different bucking horses and bulls in a rodeo.
 A man argues with his father several times, telling him to sober up and stop drinking and gambling; the father argues that the younger man should stop dangerous rodeo riding. Two men argue when one sells the other man's horse to pay the rent. A man wrestles with a teenage boy, pins him hard and when the man lets the boy up, the boy starts yelling, frightened, and leaves the room. A man says, "If an animal got hurt like I did, it would have to be put down. God gives each of us a purpose" and argues with his father about riding in a rodeo and his father says, "Well, kill yourself."
 We hear that an injured man that was a former rodeo star is in a rehabilitation facility; we see the injured man in a wheelchair with his head and arms shaking in spasms and he cannot speak but can use sign language to communicate, and a large indentation is noticeable in this throat where a ventilator had been inserted. Rehab center staff and friends lift an injured man from his wheelchair, wipe noticeable drool from his mouth, and sit him in a saddle on a strong stand. A man helps exercise an injured man's arms and legs and later his arms. A 15-year-old girl has a limited vocabulary, sings constantly, and has child-like mannerisms; we hear that she fell and hit her head, suffering traumatic brain injury. A man has a prosthetic hand shaped like a hook (from an unknown injury). A doctor tells a man that he is having seizures in his right hand because he is not resting enough and that he cannot train horses or compete in rodeos again. In several scenes we see a man's hand stiffen and become locked around a rope to the point where he must peel the fingers and thumb back to release the rope.
 Three men run and jump over a large campfire in a field at night and discuss rodeo injuries; one man says that he was slammed to the ground and hurt his ribs, another man says he broke an arm, a third man says he hit the ground and suffered a stinger (pain like an electric shock in an arm), and a fourth man with them says his brain injury is different than bruised ribs and he won't be back to the rodeo for a while because he had a seizure and was in a coma and had brain surgery, and one of the other men claims to have had 10 concussions. A man says that a horse stomped on his head (we do not see that). We hear that a man broke his hand in a rodeo and rode a bull using only his other hand.
 A man trains a hostile horse, gradually causing it to stop neighing, stomping, and kicking toward him; the horse runs around in a small enclosure and falls to its side but is uninjured. A man trains a hostile horse, tying its head to a railing and a rope around a back ankle to an opposite railing; the horse struggles several times, whinnies, kicks and finally becomes calmer so the man can ride him slapping his sides with strips of leather. A man works with four running horses to gather them into a group and place them into a small enclosure.
 A man visits his mother's grave in a primitive cemetery with uncut grass and wooden markers. A man driving pulls to the side of a road and cries because a friend was seriously injured.
 A man shoots a rabbit in a long shot and the camera zooms in to show the rabbit's head and shoulders lying on the ground with eyes open (no blood shows); the scene cuts to the man in a dark house cutting the rabbit up on a table (we see some blood), and then to the meat boiling in a pot. A few scenes show a man working in a grocery store kitchen, washing off bloody carving knives. A man spreads thick brown salve on a horse's nose.
 A man practices twirling a pistol in his hand and later rides a horse, shows the pistol to the horse and fires three shots over its head to train it to remain calm at the noise; the horse shudders a couple of times.
 A man kneels at a toilet and vomits several times (we see brown goo). A man spits white material into grass in a couple of scenes. A man on horseback wipes his face, gets off the animal, vomits into the grass (we see brown goo), falls to his knees and falls to his side; the camera cuts to him in a hospital bed with an oxygen tube at his nose.
 A tattoo artist inks an ornate cross to cover a man's back and on the cross, a rodeo bull is tied head down. A man has the words "Say I Wont" [no apostrophe] tattooed across his shoulders and a bucking bull down his side.

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LANGUAGE 7 - About 26 F-words and its derivatives, 3 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 11 mild obscenities, name-calling (stubborn, grandpa, dirty dog, trashy), exclamations (wow, oh dear), 6 religious exclamations (Jesus Christ, Holy [scatological term deleted], I Pray To God, a prayer for a disabled man, 2 prayers for horses).

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SUBSTANCE USE - Four men smoke a marijuana cigarette around a campfire, three men smoke a long marijuana cigarette in a home, a woman and a man smoke two marijuana cigarettes in the back of a pickup truck, a man smokes part of a marijuana cigarette on his ranch, a man swallows two prescription capsules with water in one scene and one capsule with water in another scene, and we see three open pill bottles on a man's nightstand (the labels are illegible). Several beer bottles are on a bar and on tables in a neighborhood bar in a few scenes, a man behind a bar pounds his fist on two empty beer bottles that fall to the floor in one scene (he is uninjured), a few men drink from beer bottles, a man orders bourbon (we do not see him drink), two men drink from beer bottles around a campfire, a man holds a beer can at dinner with his family but does not drink, a man removes a can of beer from a refrigerator and walks out of the scene, and a man giggles and stumbles while talking to his adult son at home (presumably inebriated). Several men in groups of two and three smoke cigarettes briefly in a bar as well as around a campfire and on a ranch, a man lights and smokes cigarettes in three scenes, a man accepts a can of chewing tobacco from another man (we do not see him use it), and a man blows cigarette smoke into a sleeping man's face to wake him up.

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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Ranching in South Dakota, rodeo riders, brain injuries, family, responsibilities, financial hardship, alcoholism, gambling, friendship, acceptance, dealing with physical limitations, helping others, starting over.
MESSAGE - Rodeo injuries can be devastating, causing survivors to wonder what to do with the rest of their lives.
CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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