Wind River

Cory is a seasoned tracker with the Fish and Wildlife service in Wind River Reservation. He hunts predators. But when he comes across the frozen body of a young woman in the snow, he gets conscripted by FBI agent Jane to help in her investigation. The cause of death hasn’t officially been listed as a homicide, but no one runs 6 miles barefoot into Wyoming’s snowy, sub-zero mountains unless she’s being chased by something REAL bad. Jane (Elizabeth Olsen) is suspicious, and Cory (Jeremy Renner) has some unresolved grief, so the two team up to uncover some very unsavoury things going on in this small community.

Avengers: Infinity War opens in theatres in just a couple of weeks. No, I haven’t randomly started writing a second review. It’s just that Sean and I have been cramming for the upcoming film by watching the Avengers back catalogue which means we’ve seen a lot of Olsen (known in the MCU as the Scarlet Witch) and Renner (Hawkeye) team up inside-movie-wind-river-renner-2-3-2cc2cc20-bc30-440c-88f6-1f5fdf320875an awful lot lately. Now here they are shivering the frigid scrub of one of the largest but least populated states in the country. Wind River Rez is served by a minuscule tribal police force – there are more Avengers than cops in Wind River. Well, that’s not saying as much as it used to, the Avengers continue to recruit to the point that they don’t all fit on the same poster anymore. But the Wind River cops you can count on one hand.

Anyway, Elizabeth Olsen has worn the wrong colour jacket in this one, so without her super powers, Jane’s restricted to good old fashioned detecting, and without much backup. Good thing Cory has no badge and no scruples – his methods are brutal, maybe, but the nature of the crimes here are so heinous they never seem out of bounds.

Writer-director Taylor Sheridan astonishes once again. His style, in many ways, is commendably economical. Every word and shot that makes it to the final cut is necessary but it never feels sparse. It just effectively delivers on the thrill inherent in the premise. The chill is bone-deep, it’s emotional, it’s felt not just seen. Sheridan wants you to experience both the snow and the silence the area is known for. Navigated by Renner’s casual competence, you’ll want to stick to this protagonist for shelter and protection. But there’s a psychological depth here so significant you’ll need snowshoes just to survive.

Yes, this is bleak stuff, but it’s also reality for the Indian tribes who live on and around Wind River. Every day, Indigenous women and girls go missing or are murdered and our law does very little about it. Sheridan paints a careful portrait of the power plays at work, and if bearing witness is the least we can do, then watch.

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23 thoughts on “Wind River

  1. Film4Fan

    “Hell or High Water” was one of my favorite movies of 2016, though I’ve yet to see “Wind River”. You’ve made me eager to watch it, might rent it in the weekend!

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    1. Jay Post author

      I loved HOH too but put this one off because I knew it was brutal and the subject matter is particularly tough for me. Worth it though. A simple but moving film.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. bookbeachbunny

    Totally agree it’s another win for Sheridan. He’s quickly going on the always watch list though I think I connected with Hell or High Water just a little bit more. Excellent review as always!

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  3. D. Wallace Peach

    I stumbled upon this movie and really liked it too. I thought Olsen and Renner both had believable and intense performances. I particularly liked how Olsen was so out of her element and making lots of mistakes, even though she was committed and her heart was in the right place.

    The postscript on the movie regarding the number of Native American women who go missing was intense. One in three NA women are assaulted or raped in their lifetimes. In 2010, finally, tribal justice systems were granted more power in prosecuting and sentencing violent offenders on reservations since until then, tribal prosecutors were barred from prosecuting crimes by non-Native American offenders, many of those crimes committed against women. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

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  4. Courtney Young

    I just wanted a liiiiiiiiiiiiiittle more from this movie, and I don’t know what that “more” is yet honestly. It’s definitely a great flick, but something was lacking for me.

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  5. J.

    I’d forgotten all about this one. I saw the trailer and read a bit about it and thought “oh aye, that sounds pretty good”. I’ll need to have a wee look for the DVD / BluRay or hope that it appears on Netflix soon(ish).

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  6. Katrina Morrison

    Hi Jay😊
    Another good review 👍🏼 The film had my attention throughout! I was chilled at the end but not by the snow; but, by the reality of the number of unsolved crimes committed against Native Americans.

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  7. Widdershins

    Watched it, enjoyed it … well, not ‘enjoyed’ exactly, but you know what I mean.

    … I’m also doing a MCU rewatch, although I skipped the Hulk movie. Edward Norton did an OK job, but my brain didn’t want to process him and Mark Ruffalo in the same role. 🙂

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  8. Liz A.

    Sounds good. I hadn’t heard of it before. If you enjoy this sort of setting, you might try the series Longmire. He’s a sherriff in Wyoming whose cases rub against the local reservation, too.

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  9. Tom

    This one hit me hard, like in the way Indian Horse moved you. I fucking teared up in this. That never happens to these Johnny Cashian eyes.

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