Directed and Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Produced by: Elizabeth A. Bell, Peter Berg, Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk, Wayne L. Rogers
Music by: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat and Graham Greene.
“While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women. No one knows how many are missing.”
After writing the screenplay for the two highly regarded crime/thrillers, Sicario (2015) – which I gave a 5/5, and, Hell or High Water (2016), Taylor Sheridan has returned as writer and as director (debut) of the crime/mystery, Wind River.
Set in the cold and snowy wasteland of Wyoming, hunter for US Fish and Wildlife, Cory Lambert (Jeremey Renner) is called out to the Wind River Reservation to track a lion after his ex-father-in-law discovers a cow killed on his land.
While tracking the lion, Cory finds a teenage girl dead in the snow.
The Sheriff (Graham Greene) calls in the FBI where Jan Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) turns up ill-prepared for the below freezing conditions and violence that lurks under Wind River’s icy surface. She soon discovers in this environment, you either survive or die.
There’s a poetry in the words spoken and insight into the isolation of living amongst the wolves and sheep, mountains, lions; the predators stalking the prey – the contrast of the outsider, the FBI agent, showing just how different life is out on the snow.
I was surprised at the casting of Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of the Olsen twins, previously starring in films such as the witch in, Captain America: Civil War (2016) and receiving critical acclaim for her role in, Martha Mercy May Marlene (2011). Her role as Jane Banner (the FBI agent) is such a mature, complicated character. The expression and restraint shows a real depth here, the character believable as law enforcement while also human, understanding she’s out of her depth and smart enough to enlist the help of local hunter, Cory Lambert.
Jeremy Renner wears the quiet wisdom of Cory well – his ability to show humility captures the essence of this hunter, an acceptance of the inevitable as the cold slowly freezes the land leaving hearts full of sadness.
Since starring in, The Bourne Legacy (2012), Renner has been used in roles with a far calmer demeanor, in my view, stepping up in his role as Ian Donnelly in, Arrival (2016) and again here as Cory.
First time director Taylor Sheridan is to be commended in his success in making the most of the cast and talent.
From the beginning, I felt Taylor had put together a strong film, where each moment, word and gesture show more than just the surface.
Wind River is a film about crime but it’s also about people and place.
There’s a rawness to surviving the land that lends to a contemplation of spirit and wisdom creating a poetry of emotion because the characters are forced to rise above the tragedy, to embrace the sadness to survive.
Taylor has a true talent in showing the tragedy in the fight for survival while also showing the beauty of the reality. And I continue to admire and congratulate his work.