The Rider

An extraordinary translation of life into art, Chloé Zhao’s drama fictionalizes the experiences of Brady Jandreau, a Lakota cowboy on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, whose rodeo career ended in April 2016 after a bucking bronco threw him and stepped on his skull. Jandreau has a sixth sense with horses, and Zhao captures a long, fascinating scene of him patiently walking and talking a wild stallion into submission; unable to ride anymore, or even to train horses safely, his character loses any sense of purpose or identity, and Zhao turns this personal crisis into a stoic modern-day western. The writer-director, who met Jandreau while making her first film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2013), cast his father and younger sister, Tim and Lilly Jandreau (who has Asperger’s syndrome), and they add to the drama immeasurably as the hero’s dad, a defiant gambling addict, and loyal sibling, who tries to talk him through his unhappiness.