Wind River is the latest thriller from hit writer/director/actor Taylor Sheridan. It stars Avengers members Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen and follows the story of the discovery of a young woman’s body in the snowy tundra of Wyoming and the dark twists and turns that are revealed through the journey to the truth of her murder.
Wind River is one of the many films this year that proves 2017 has been a great year for cinema. Sheridan crafts a brutally human thriller based on actual events and one of the key components of this is the story and the characters within it. When seasoned hunter Cory (Renner) comes across a young girl while hunting for mountain lions, it sparks a homicide investigation that rocks the lives of the close-knit community. To help with this investigation is FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen) who finds both the people and the land they live in inhospitable. After promising the father of the victim he will locate the killer Cory partners up with Jane to try and figure out how this young woman’s body was found six miles away from the nearest civilised area.
What makes Wind River such an enthralling film is the nuanced skill of director Taylor Sheridan who’s use of cinematography and direction brings an ethereal beauty to the whole movie. The Wind River Indian Reservation and the surrounding mountain range is stunning giving the landscape a piece of innocence with the dark undercurrent of malice and savagery staining it. The score accompanying the cinematography is chilling, this is down to the fact that the score is not just orchestral. There is a choir interjected into the score now and then and when this ominous presence enters the fray, there is an added weight to every scene. It’s a deliberate decision on the director’s part, and it is highly effective.
At the centre of this film are the characters, Cory (Renner) is a soft-spoken, earnest individual who has a tragic background that gives him a kind of stake in finding the killer of this young girl. Jeremy Renner is fantastic in Wind River, giving an understated and moving performance that will bring you to tears. Elizabeth Olsen is brilliant as Jane Banner, lightening some of the scenes with her excellent banter with Renner’s Cory due to her fish out of water sub-plot because she’s never been to anywhere so cold before. She also brings a quiet strength to the role that runs parallel to what the audience learns about the victim as the film progresses. Renner and Olsen aren’t the only actors giving their all in Wind River; they are surrounded by an engaging and genuine supporting cast that fill out this world convincingly.
The action in Wind River is also something quite impressive. There is a level of brutal realism to several key scenes in the film that will astound audiences. One, in particular, is a scene where Jane has been maced in the face and has to try and take down several suspects while she has a kind of tunnel vision meaning that friend and foe are targets in her eyes. The tension of scenes like this is heightened by Sheridan’s use of the chilling score and visceral cinematography.
There are few issues if any in Wind River. The film has an impactful run time, a tight 111 minutes, which gives the story a clear beginning, middle, and end. The story never waivers so you always feel fully immersed in the story and there doesn’t feel like there is any excess weight on the film. Taylor Sheridan has brought together a fantastic cast with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen and what he has crafted with Wind River is a weighty film that culminates in an emotional and harrowing payoff.