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Wind River: Movie Review

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I let myself go into Wind River with very little expectations. I knew that the director and writer, Taylor Sheridan, wrote Sicario so I had hope that the story would be just as well constructed. Other than that, I allowed myself to be surprised by the film.

Jeremey Renner stars as Cory Lambert, a US Fish and Wildlife agent in Wyoming, who stumbles upon a body of a young girl in the wilderness of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Elizabeth Olsen joins the investigation as Jane Banner, a rookie FBI Agent. She quickly finds herself in over her head with the cold winter of Wyoming and the isolation it brings so she asks Cory for assistance.

It’s not the intense action film that one would expect from Sheridan. Rather it’s a deep character driven thriller. All the same, it fits with the isolation of the frozen wilderness that the characters battle from the beginning. The murdered girl, Natalie, is found barefoot and has strong signs of sexual assault, but the official cause of death is that her lungs burst from the bitter cold. Jane knows that there’s more to the story so she makes it her mission to find out why Natalie ran so far into the wilderness. We learn along the way that Cory has connections he gained through his ex-wife and son with the natives of the reservation. He even knows the girl who was murdered, Natalie, and her family. It creates a personal vendetta for Cory to hunt down the person responsible for Natalie’s death.

Renner and Olsen comprise the perfect duo. Both of these actors did an amazing job with their characters. Renner portrays a man who knows how to hunt predators and buries himself in his work. He parades as tough hunter, but as the film progresses he reveals his pain due to this personal connection to the case. Olsen’s character is new to this particular game. Olsen often portrays Jane with a sense of innocence. She expects everything to go by the book and when it doesn’t she is lost in this new terrain. Both of these characters learn a lesson from the other and rely on each other to find the truth in this case. They have skills that the other needs to solve this murder.

Another aspect of the film that I enjoyed was the battle of the elements. The snow of Wyoming easily becomes a force to be reckoned with. The cold was responsible for killing Natalie in the first place after she ran for miles. It even creates an obstacle for Cory and Jane as they search for clues. It also creates isolation for the people who live in the reservation. The snowy terrain is not for the faint of heart as Jane quickly learns. It brings out the strengths and weaknesses of all the characters.

I thought this was a deep and provocative film about sexual assault. It really portrays how easily it’s swept under the rug. It even brings up questions of the structure of our laws and how that impacts Native American lands. The story goes down a dark path that I didn’t see coming until the very end. Although it’s not the traditional murder mystery, it goes deep into subjects that shouldn’t be ignored.

Wind River (2017)
  Director:  Taylor Sheridan
Studio:  The Weinstein Company
Genre:  Suspense
MPAA:  R
Release Date:  August 4th, 2017
Author:  Emily Casebolt
Emily Casebolt Born in Albuquerque and raised in San Diego, Emily Casebolt is a graduate of New Mexico State University with degree in Digital Filmmaking. She writes and plots stories any chance she gets from screenplays to novels. On her freetime, she watches hours of Netflix and reads countless books. She aspires to be a television writer for a one hour drama. 

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