Here’s a great review for one of our new bicyclemovie.com releases Moon Rider. From the very first ten minutes of the film I knew I was watching something special. It reminded me of the great cycling novel, The Rider by Tim Krabbe.
Here’s the CycloSport review from journalist Nick Gregory
“The feature film debut of acclaimed director and poet Daniel Dencik, Moon Rider is an intimate, gripping and at times uncomfortable insight into the solitude and suffering of an aspiring professional cyclist. Far from the glitz and glamour of Le Tour, with podium girls kissing champions draped in yellow, Rasmus Quaade’s story is one of fear, pressure and self-doubt.
Moon Rider is beautifully and simplistically shot on a combination of delicate super8, and mounted mind’s-eye style helmet cameras. Jarringly, Dencik, with the help of some excellent cinematography from Aske Foss, manages to present extreme pain and sacrifice in a visually stunning way. At times Moon Rider makes for almost sadistic viewing, giving a sense that Quaade is suffering on our account – such is Dencik’s skill and subtlety in captivating his audience, and allowing us to endure every pedal stroke with the young champion.
Officially selected for Cannes 2011, Moon Rider has an almost home-movie feel to it that provides an increased sense of intimacy with its subject. The low-budget, super8 look also accurately reflects the constant financial struggle that Quaade and many of his contemporaries have faced. It was a struggle responsible for ending his dreams of becoming World Under 23 Time Trial Champion in Australia, after he crashed and was unable to continue because there had been no budget for a spare bike.
Quuade, as he himself puts it, has an addiction to suffering – “just like a drug addict who needs a fix, I want to get as close to dying as possible.” It is a startling notion for the average person to comprehend, and one that is made even more unnerving by the fact that throughout the film he scarcely shows any hint of emotion – any sense that this might be mere hyperbole. Even when he talks of being happy, or conversely, when we see him sat backstage after crashing out of the World Championships having to listen to the national anthem of his rival ringing out, Quaade still has the same detached, emotionless gaze fixed upon his face.
Utterly focused, and singularly determined to succeed on his bike, prior to gaining a professional contract Quaade relied solely on the money he made at races to live on. In contrast however, to some of cycling’s greatest champions such as Coppi or Anquetil, Quaade is not faced with the prospect of either making it as a cyclist or returning to, in their case, a life of toil in the fields. Early in the film we learn from a former teacher that Quaade is very earnest, thoughtful and intelligent, and gained good qualifications at school. As the film develops, it becomes increasingly apparent that this tendency to calculate and analyse could prove to be his undoing.
It is indicative that each of the five riders who finished above Quaade three weeks ago in Florence all ride for World Tour level teams. Despite his seemingly limitless physiological prowess when time trialling, Moon Rider makes it abundantly clear that at present, Quaade lacks the psychological robustness necessary for road racing at World Tour standard. Fear, or rather his inability to empty his mind completely of it, is the issue. His body is capable, but his over-active, over-analytical mind is unable to ignore the danger involved. Cycling, after all, is not his only option; and as the self-doubt and pressure (from coaches, fans, friends, but mostly himself) mounts, we see Quaade disintegrate.
From the prodigious young talent who claimed not to “have a religion, but something inside me that tells me to be a rider”, Quaade’s move to the professional road racing ranks brings with it fear and disappointment; the heart-breaking impact of which is revealed when he states with a tone of resignation, “I don’t see myself as a rider anymore.”
An eerie, yet entrancing soundtrack composed by Erik Enocksson, combined with the recurring lunar references not only give the film an almost supernatural feel, but also contextualise for the audience the extent of the task facing Quaade. It is a film rife with juxtaposition, be it his success against the clock and his failure on the road, or the noise of the cheering fans in the velodrome immediately contrasted with the silence of a lonely hotel room. It is, in essence, a life of ups and downs, and Dencik’s gritty portrait exquisitely captures that in all its beauty and tragedy.
The latest entry on the official Moon Rider Facebook page reads as follows: “Rasmus Quaade finishes 6th in the Elite World Championship with a flat tire at the start today… heaven is the limit and the moon is on your way”.
His target is clear. The outcome remains anything but.”