Skip to main content

"Wind River" is a Bleak Crime Story With Thrilling Performances By Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen: Review

Image result for wind river movieFilm Review: Wind River


Ah, the kinds of movies Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen can make when they aren't busy playing Avengers. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch have teamed up for another movie, one that is about as far from a superhero movie as I can imagine; a depressing indie set on an impoverished Indian reservation. Wind River is a masterfully written look at a largely overlooked sector of American life that features several powerhouse performances. From the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water comes another tale about the intersection of poverty and crime in America.

Image result for wind river movieWritten and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is a dark crime thriller set on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner plays Corey Lambert, an agent of the US Fish and Wildlife Service who while hunting for a mountain lion that has been killing livestock on the Reservation stumbles across a dead body lying in the snow. The body is that of 18-year old Natalie Hanson (Kesley Chow), who died after running barefoot in the snow for miles after being assaulted. FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen, also wonderful in an entirely different way in Ingrid Goes West) is called in from Las Vegas to investigate, although only because she was the closest agent to the scene. She's young and clearly out of her element; she arrives in sub-zero temperatures without even a pair of gloves to protect her from the cold. Banner is aware of the slim chance the murder has of ever being solved (drugs and crime are prevalent on the 3,500 square mile reservation) so she enlists the help of Lambert and the tribal police chief played by Graham Greene to track down the murderer.

The actors are great. Renner hasn't had a role this good in years. He plays the hunter hardened by tragedy with empathetic gloom. He plays off Olsen nicely, especially in the scene where Renner opens up to Olsen about his past that serves as a powerful reminder of how great both actors are. Also outstanding are Greene as the deadpan policeman, Julia Jones as Lambert's ex-wife and Gil Birmingham as Natalie's grieving father. Birmingham (also great in Hell or High Water) only has two scenes, but they will be the scenes that Wind River is most remembered for. There's also an extended flashback of Natalie and her boyfriend (Jon Bernthal) that is tender and, ultimately, heartbreaking. 

Wind River is brutal. It's unrelentingly dark, and that will turn a lot of people off from it. But Sheridan is such a great writer that the bleakness is not without purpose. Although Wind River is very much a crime thriller and easily could have fallen into the generic whodunit model, Sheridan fills the film with pointed statements about the conditions of life for Native Americans and the cycle of injustice. One of the first scenes in the movie features of a wolf menacingly staring down a group of sheep on a ranch. The wolf is then shot dead by a character we come to learn is Lambert. In that scene, we learn everything about we need to know about the world of Wind River

As tight as the screenplay is, there was still one specific detail that didn't make sense to me. I can't reveal what it is without giving away the whole story, but it bothered me. Some of the music (the score was by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) felt too heavy in some of the more intimate scenes of the movie. It also has a pretty conventional way of shooting the snowy landscapes. But this is Sheridan's first time directing one of his screenplays and, with time, he will probably become as sharp in those aspects of filmmaking as he is with his screenplays. 

What did YOU think of Wind River? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Marnie" is One of Alfred Hitchcock's Most Underrated Films: Review

Classic Film Review: "Marnie" (1964) If your list of favorite Alfred Hitchcock films does not include Marnie , you need to rethink your list. The 1964 film, adapted from the novel by Winston Graham, finds the Master of Suspense and his collaborators at the top of their game. Bernard Herrman's score is equal parts grand and hypnotic. Edith Head's costumes inform as much of Marnie's character as the script does. The production design is among the best in any Hitchcock film. It's a suspenseful psychodrama that allows Hitchcock to do what he does best. When it was originally released in July 1964, the film received mixed reviews from critics, ending a hot streak for Hitchcock that included North by Northwest, Pyscho, and The Birds . In the years since its initial release, Marnie has rightly become known as one of the films that best define Hitchcock's style. Tippi Hedren plays the titular Marnie, a thief who takes office jobs only to steal money from

Is the New Boomerang Streaming Service for Cartoons Worth It?

      Boomerang , the recently launched streaming service from Turner and Warner Bros, offers a host of classic cartoons from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and '00s that I loved as a kid. I have fond memories of watching Boomerang (the cable channel) as it always had old episodes of Scooby Doo and The Smurfs and without commercials to boot. It was the sister network of Cartoon Network, which had some cartoons I liked, but many that I didn't. But the cable channel known as Boomerang today carries primarily modern cartoons and is advertiser-supported, meaning the classics have been bumped to graveyard time slots or off the schedule completely. The first time I realized that the Boomerang channel of today does not resemble the Boomerang of my childhood is the first time I ever felt old . I mean, it's been less than a decade since I was obsessively collecting everything Scooby Doo I could find. But the past is past us now. I start college next week and no longe

"My Mind Turns Your Life Into Folklore": Why Taylor Swift's "Gold Rush" Is a Song About Songwriting

"My mind turns your life into folklore." That line, from the song "Gold Rush," is the only time the word "folklore" is spoken on either of Taylor Swift's 2020 records, Folklore and Evermore , the latter of which is where the song appears. The presence of the line indicates that "Gold Rush" is a pivotal song not only in Swift's lockdown duology, but in her maturation as a songwriter.  Swift's early albums often drew heavily from her own experiences, with fans and the media scouring her lyrics for clues as to which ex-boyfriend her numerous breakup songs referred. Her tumultuous dating life made as many headlines as her music, in part because it informed so much of the music. The discourse was often ridiculous and reductive, and thankfully, that period of her career is over (Swift has been in a relationship with the actor Joe Alwyn since 2016).  Both of her 2020 albums have their fair share of autobiographical songs, but they also see