Wind River is a murder-mystery that takes place at Wind River Indian reserve located in northern Wyoming. Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, this movie attempts to bring to light a real issue involving neglect and unfair treatment of native Americans in reserves such as the one portrayed in the movie. It is the final movie that Sheridan has written for his American Frontier related movie trilogy (Sicario, Hell or High Water). When local predator tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds a native American girl dead in the snow, he teams up with an FBI Agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to try to find out who was to blame. Wind River has flown under the radar of most modest moviegoers, and that is largely because of the lack of advertising. While this film had a movie budget of just $11M, the production quality is still top notch.
As far as the bad goes, there really isn’t a lot to put in here. However, since I feel obligated to put something in this section, I will do my best to nit-pick. One thing I could nit-pick is how depressing this movie can be. There are some types of people who should not watch this movie because they won’t be able to get over the depressing events throughout (you know who you are…….mom). There was also some pretty frequent shifting of camera angles whenever there was face-to-face dialogue. That was a little annoying at first but by the end, I had gotten so invested in the movie that I totally forgot about it.
I don’t even really know where start, so I guess I will start with the acting. First of all, Jeremy Renner is absolutely on his A-game. The last time I did a review on a Jeremy Renner movie I remember talking about how dissatisfied I was with Renner’s performance in Arrival. Renner was the perfect person to cast for this role and he did an amazing job portraying the raw emotion that he was experiencing throughout. As of now, Renner has my vote for the best male actor of the year, that is if I had a vote of course. Elizabeth Olsen was also fantastic as FBI Agent Jane Banner. She portrays the fish-out-of-water feel of an agent that’s on her own in a place she is unfamiliar with. In addition, I was extremely impressed with pretty much all of the supporting actors in this film. With such a small budget, I was expecting some lackluster side characters. I was pleasantly surprised by the acting quality of all of the supporting actors.
The visuals in this film are absolutely incredible. Just imagine the beautiful mystery of the snow-covered mountains in Wyoming as a backdrop for almost every scene. It feels natural and authentic like the viewer is actually there in the wilderness with them. The backdrops and visuals were definitely some of the best I have ever seen in a movie. The emotions of this film also added to the authenticity of it. There is so much raw emotion in this film that it could easily bring someone to tears. The emotion involved with the murder or with digging farther back into Cory’s unfortunate past, it all was so real and moving.
The film does a great job of letting the audience uncover more and more of the story as it goes along. Not just facts related to the murder, but also the facts related to Cory’s past. You never learn Cory’s entire story, but that’s ok. I think they leave that mystery unsolved so that the audience can get a sense of how rarely native Americans get answers to cases such as the murder mystery solved in this movie. The neglect of Indians in America is a real issue and I think the movie did a great job of shining some light on the issue without shoving it down our throat.
I could go on and on about the different components that made this movie so great, but since it is a murder-mystery, there are spoilers. I want all of you to have the chance to experience this movie for yourself without too many preconceived notions from this review about what you are going to feel or how much you are going to enjoy Wind River.
This is definitely the best movie I have seen all year and I fully expect it to bring home some hardware when The Academy Awards rolls around next February. It is not the type of movie that you are going to feel the need to watch a bunch of times, but I will definitely be looking to watch it again at some point. My not-overly-bold prediction for the day: you will be seeing Wind River in my Top 10 Movies of 2017 list.