There are an awful lot of bad takes around at the moment about how masculinity is under siege and men are in trouble because women are insisting on not being harassed, abused, raped, and murdered by them. And yet there have been vanishingly few explorations of what constitutes authentic, healthy masculinity in today’s world. One of the very best of this rare breed is 2018’s The Rider, writer-director Chloé Zhao’s beautifully accomplished semidocumentary drama about a young horse trainer and rodeo rider in the American West coping with the aftermath of a severe traumatic brain injury.
This heartbreaking yet utterly unsentimental film contemplates conundrums that are very much of the moment — how do we detoxify our ideas of what makes a man a man? how do we navigate an economy that no longer has much tolerance for human needs? — and gently yet firmly refuses to let them be dismissed or ignored even if it has few answers to offer. (Read my 2018 review.)
US: stream on Mubi (via Prime); rent/buy on Prime and Apple TV
UK: rent on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema; rent/buy on Prime and Apple TV
See The Rider at Letterboxd for more viewing options.