Wind River: A Chilling, Character-Driven Thriller

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star in Wind River. Photo: Fred Hayes. © 2017 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved

Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen take us on a thrilling ride in the the character-driven Wind River.

Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, and James Jordan.

After writing award-nominated screenplays for Sicario and last year’s Hell or High Water, Sheridan moves back into the director’s chair for his second feature–the chilling Wind River.  For Sheridan, it’s the conclusion to a thematic trilogy exploring the modern frontier.  It was very important for Sheridan that the film was truthful and sensitive to what’s going on in these reservations.  The pace can seem to be a bit on the slow side but that’s just how the pacing for some of these character-driven films can be.

After the mysterious death of a local girl, Natalie (Asbille), FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen) is called in to assist the local tribal police investigation on the Wind River reservation.  Banner teams up with a local tracker, Cory Lambert (Renner), to figure out what happened to Natalie.  For Cory, this investigation has brought some old memories back to the forefront given Natalie’s age.

The investigation leads them to where Natalie’s boyfriend lived and this is where we get the flashback to what happened before Natalie was running at the start of the film.  It gets graphic and I would have preferred they had kept this scene out but it’s clear that the rape scene is important to the story.

Ben Richardson’s cinematography feels authentic in that the film captures how isolated and frigid these reservations can be.  The film makes us feel for these characters who are just fighting to survive in this environment.  The wintry location of Park City, Utah, makes for some amazing visuals as nature plays an antagonistic role.

Wind River explores perhaps the most tangible remnant of America’s frontier, and America’s greatest failure — the Native American reservation,” says Sheridan.  “At its most personal, it is the study of how a man moves on from a tragedy without ever gaining closure.  At its broadest, it is a study of the consequence of forcing people to live on land where people were never meant to live.”

The film ends with the following message appearing on screen: “While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.  No one knows how many are missing.”  It’s unfortunate that this information isn’t available.

The Weinstein Company opened Wind River in New York and Los Angeles on August 4, 2017.  The thriller expands into more locations, including Chicago, on August 11, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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