This poster was made by the talented Eileen at SG_Posters. 🙂 I simply couldn’t resist using it for my review!! Read on for my review.
Wind River is my favourite Taylor Sheridan film and one of my favourite films of the year. Yes, I freaking love Wind River!! There’s a certain unpretentious charm about all the films he’s directed and written (i.e. Hell or High Water, Sicario) which makes the lover of genuine cinema in me squirm with joy. Wind River, like the aforementioned films, spotlights the character of a social habitus and environment through the pretext of crime and conflict. In Wind River, a local conservation agent (Jeremy Renner) and an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigate the death of an Indian girl in the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Beneath the simplicity of it’s plot, Sheridan and his actors manage to find a genuine emotional resonance. Like the overwhelming conglomeration of drugs in Mexican society (Sicario) and the forgotten communities of rural American heartland (Hell of high water), Wind River is an inner look into the suffocation of Red Indian communities and its high rate of brutality against women.
Without displacing the Red Indian characters and the actors who portray them in favour of the usual White-Saviour complex, Wind River does not fall into the trappings of typical ignorance and naivete. Sheridan’s more complex characterization of the community that he wants to spotlight is a testament to his growing strength as a writer/director. In fact, some of the most heartfelt moments were poured out from the hearts and minds of the native characters themselves, which genuinely enfleshed the struggles of the natives in Wind River. Feeling aggrieved at the lack of opportunity and the desolate nature of their enclosed community, the movie beautifully weaves in complex human struggles with its gritty crime plot.
Evidently outsiders to this brutal maelstrom of a murder investigation, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) and Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) are entrenched in this unfolding drama like fish out of water. Cory’s a Fish and Wildlife service agent while Jane’s a last-minute FBI addition and arrives from another state. This is probably the best acting either of them have done and just goes to show that Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch can do far more than donning their superhero alter-egos. Both portrayed a sense that this collective grief experienced by various parts of the Indian community was far greater than their place in the investigation. Their vulnerabilities were tested against the raging winds. I especially liked the scenes where Elizabeth Olsen’s ideas of straight justice and clinical procedure were shattered by the brokenness of a community. In one scene, Jane disregards Mr.Hanson’s (Gil Birmingham) warning and insists on speaking to his wife only to find her grieving for their daughter as she cuts herself repeatedly. Just as FBI agent Jane feels like an outsider to the community she is investigating, Sheridan also highlights how different inhabitants of their own community feel out of place as well.
I think I can understand if some people would categorize Wind River as one of ‘those’ films that places Native Americans in ‘set roles’ like outsiders in their own land. While I do agree that more needs to be done to show the diversity of life in Native American communities, one cannot disregard Wind River for not being that film. In fact, I don’t think there have been many great films spotlighting the challenges of native Americans in such a human and resonant way; It’s the first step to truly reconcile the injustice the people in their community have suffered and to fully enflesh them as real people that deserve representation. With impressive direction, soundtrack, acting and beautiful directing, Wind River’s hugely enigmatic crime thriller is beset by its ability to portray its characters as genuinely as they deserve to be. Wind River does not mince on how dangerous a foreign terrain can be for outsiders like Jane nor the dangers that native women themselves face in their own land. Sheridan’s film hits hard because, in this prescient time of division and ‘otherness’, we all in fact grieve over the same things.
Rating: 9.5/10 What are your thoughts on the film?