The Rider (2017), is directed by Chloe Zhao and based on a true story.
The first film sequence represents a brown horse in chiaroscuro followed by a man, the rider Brady Blackburn, who wakes up from a dream, probably a nightmare.
Indeed, the dream aesthetic is present throughout the movie with the omnipresence of nocturne landscapes. Brady’s sister, Lily, enjoys the contemplation of starry nights, alike the protagonist friends when they gather around a fire camp. This dream is mostly accompanied with silence through wide shots on vast and windy landscapes which are sometimes interrupted by songs or dialogues. The melodies are also sung by Lily and the friends and sound like lullabies. Regarding the oral conversations, they often appear as fragmented and short as the protagonist is a man of few words who also mumbles, which reinforces this sense of monotone tranquillity as well as confusion. Soundtracks are also rare and fit perfectly within this atmosphere.
However, this visual restfulness is troubled by another sensorial experience, which is quite unusual for movies: the touch. From the first scene, the close-ups on Brady’s head and contusions, his act of wrapping his head in a transparent film invites the viewer to feel the wound, which made me uncomfortable but forces some empathy. Within the touch experience, Brady’s hands are shown as powerful on the one hand when they serve as communication tools to tame horses, as mediators to speak with his friend Lane Scott in sign languages, or weak on the other hands when he feels cramps every time he touches something related to his riding past, for example, the horse miniature or the horse rope, which also recalls him brutally his accident. […]