Wind River (2017)
Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 3 Average: 4.3/5]
Directed By: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Kelsey Asbille, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal
Wind River is a movie about survival, about how much a person is willing to push oneself to survive. It is not just the physical exertion but also the emotional turmoil, the pain one is willing to go through to just move on. Wind River explores deeper emotions which build on slowly and steadily and then come out with a sudden burst.
Wind River follows Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a US Fish and Wildlife service agent, whose is a sheepdog and hunts the wolfs who attack the herd. He is an expert tracker and on one such mission of finding a coyote he discovers a frozen body of a girl. She turns out to be a local tribal teenager Natalie (Kelsey Asbille). She was incidentally the best friend of Cory’s daughter who had died 3 years before under mysterious circumstances. Since she is a tribal so the tribal police chief Ben Shoyo (Graham Greene) gets involved and so does the FBI. FBI sends a rookie Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) and she comes ill equipped for the place. She recruits Cory as her tracker. They then start the investigation starting with Martin Hanson (Gil Birmingham) who is Natalies’s father, a tribal and Cory’s close friend. One clue leads to another, finally culminating into a Mexican standoff.
Wind River is shot in Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming which is picturesque as a post card. It is a vast expanse of smooth white nothingness which is interrupted by tracks of the snowmobile. The cinematography is at its best and the slow pace of movie captures every detail of the landscape. It is often a neglected place and the Indians are a neglected race and the movie just highlights the same through its storytelling. Neglected, as highlighted by the fact that a murder happens and all the FBI sends is a rookie who is clearly out of place.
There are various issues which exist in the place like lack of education and health. Also, crime and as the movie highlights there were only 6 people in the tribal police for the entire Wind River region. The most prevalent issue there is the sexual assaults on the women- there are so many cases still pending that the locals have accepted their fate and have taken the matter in their own hands to uphold the law as when Ben tells Jane: “This isn’t the land of backup Jane, This is the land of: you’re on your own.”
Cory and Jane are good together and more importantly they complement each other (probably their time in avengers has helped). Jane being a rookie is guided well and protected well by Cory. Jeremy Renner is brilliant as a broken guy trying to move on after the death of his daughter.
Wind River is directed by Taylor Sheridan who before making his debut with this wrote the screenplay for Sicario and Hell or High Water. He has created a very intense movie and the fact that this is based on loads of actual events and the fact that nothing has been done, in fact no record is being kept by the feds or the tribal police is stark and the message hits the cord.
Cory and Martin are two major characters and their vulnerability/pain is beautifully highlighted in the Wind River. The exchange between both at the very end of the movie is very powerful- both are hard men who share their grief together and embrace the pain so that they could move on with their lives.
Wind River is a deep, moving, tragic movie. We watched it thinking it was a thriller- which it is- from the very first few scenes there is an anticipation of something bad happening, and then we are on the tense journey with Cory and Jane to find out the killers and have some justice. But there is a lot more going on- it’s a tough, unforgiving life out there in the snowy wilderness with a constant fight for survival. There is so much grief and silence and stillness in all the scenes and in all the characters that you feel, really feel for them and want them to have some redemption and if possible- hope.