A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.
Taylor Sheridan’s work as a writer over the past few years on the likes of ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ had already marked him out as one of the best in the business, and his directorial debut (which he also wrote) ‘Wind River’ follows in that same vein of quality. Set in a sparse Indian Reservation in Wyoming in the midst of winter, it’s a film about the rape and murder of a young girl, and the subsequent investigation into what happened. Like ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’, the film uses this premise to explore a wide variety of themes that encapsulates, amongst other things, the lifestyle of the Arapaho Indians who inhabit this land and how central government and law enforcement often neglects these remote settlements.
The film is led by Jeremy Renner’s hunter, who becomes involved in the investigation as a result of his experience and knowledge of the vast and desolate snow covered landscape. His character Cory Lambert comes across as the strong, silent type in the vein of Gary Cooper (to steal a Tony Soprano quote), quietly going about his business and still struggling from a tragic event in his past. He’s joined by rookie FBI agent Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen, a Florida native thrust into an alien environment mostly populated by men who treat her with a high degree of sceptism. The rest of the main cast are filled with Native American actors, with Graham Greene as the local police chief and Gil Birmingham as the grieving father the most prominent. Birmingham in particular is terrific and I was impressed with how well Sheridan balances the intensity of the core narrative with the quieter moments where the weight of loss is really felt through the performances.
It’s every bit as intense as we’ve come to expect from Sheridan’s works, building as the net closes in, and when the action scenes do arrive, they’re handled superbly. ‘Wind River’ is an impressive debut from Taylor Sheridan that continues his strong streak as a screenwriter and I’m already highly anticipating his follow up.
Directed By: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Julia Jones, Kelsey Chow, Eric Lange and Hugh Dillon