SXSW Film '10 — The Ride

Meredith Danluck’s documentary about the Professional Bull Riding circuit, a traveling band of the world’s top bull riders, has a lot to like about it. It also needs a lot of work before it becomes the amazing film it could be.

Danluck’s film follows a smattering of participants in the PBR circuit — from bull riders to a national anthem singer with higher aspirations.

The film is bookended by footage from two gigs — showcasing some of the amazing risks the bull riders put themselves into on a nightly basis. The real meat of the movie, though, are the stories told by the participants. One at a time, audiences are introduced to faces behind the PBR including a bull rider who grew up in an Amish community and a rodeo clown who proves that fooling for a living around can wear on the soul.

Unfortunately, the chapter-book nature of the movie — where each individual subject gets their own five to ten minute moment in the sun — gives the film a segmented feel. After the first two or three chapters, audiences will begin to loose interest with the seemingly repetitive nature of some of the subjects. Besides a few stand-out participants with truly interesting back-stories, the documentary’s subjects tend to be content leading a quiet life of solitude on their ranch when their not riding bulls — not exactly thrilling stuff.

The film could, I believe, be saved by trimming out some of the repetitive subjects and mixing up some of the tales in a more interesting narrative fashion — a la Murderball.

The movie, well shot and produced, has a lot of interesting stories but watching the film to get to those nuggets of fascination is an endurance test that, at this point, may not be worth undertaking.

Category: Spotlight Premieres

Director: Meredith Danluck

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