Visually impressive and just so fucking captivating, Wind River is one hell of a slow-burning thriller. This slower pace kept me from watching for the longest time. Yesterday, I was ready for it. The first thing you’re going to notice about this movie is the cinematography. Mesmerizing vistas of snow-covered mountains slowly transform in sleepy valley towns immersing further into the story. A story that’s taking place in the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. A place that feels like it exists in a parallel universe, something that’s not far from the truth as we’re about to learn.
During the opening credits, we also learn that Wind River is inspired by true events. For now, I would just like to say that this isn’t a single case but an amalgamation of many, similar cases. This is the third and final part of Taylor Sheridan’s neo-western trilogy, following Sicario and Hell or High Water. As such, it feels more like a standard detective story. The opening scene shows a girl running in the night through the snow and let’s just say the story takes off from there. Now, I will have to say that some of the characters feel a bit too formulaic and contrived. The brooding hunter, wise old cop, and inexperienced FBI agent are all too familiar to the fans of the genre. The whole thing feels a bit too heavy-handed.
However, the storytelling here is just so damn good that you’ll soon forget about any complaints you’ve had. You’re willing to go along with the story and find out what happened. The events you’re witnessing are harrowing, thought-provoking and above all, captivating. It all feels very authentic and upon further research, I must say is, sadly, very authentic. This is where the script excels, especially when talking about grief and how to overcome it. I think that the points made are very true and could help people dealing with these issues. The lack of almost any kind of romance is also greatly appreciated. If this was just another thriller, you simply know that our two lead characters would hook up. But this is not just another thriller.
Wind River Indian Reservation is an inhospitable place, especially during the winter. And no one knows this better than Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert. One day, while he was tracking a dangerous animal through the snow, he stumbles upon the body of a young girl. Frozen, barefoot, and miles away from any shelter, she was definitely either hunted or killed. Soon, the FBI shows up and the hunt for the most dangerous animal of all is on. The hunt for the killer.
As someone who watches all kinds of movies and true crime documentaries, I found Wind River to be a haunting experience. Sheridan hit some ancient, mythic chords here. Not only the story is fucked up but the visual aspect immensely contributes to this general feeling of unease. That bleak whiteness of it all man, it’s no wonder that we have a whole section dedicated to Snow Movies. As you might have guessed, Jeremy Renner was excellent here along with Elizabeth Olsen. And it’s always good to see Graham Greene. I would also have to add that beautiful fucking nature to the list as it plays an important role here. It’s setting up this ominous and desolate atmosphere that puts the chill in your bones.
Now it’s time to talk more about what Wind River is actually about, missing and murdered Indigenous women. The statistics are staggering and this is an issue that needs to be talked about. Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic. I don’t want to just blast statists at you, so be sure to check out the link for more info. Suffice to say that the story from this movie could have and probably might have happened in some shape or form. And I dare not to think about even worse cases. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Wind River, I recommend you check out The Frozen Ground, Hunter Hunter, and Insomnia. Good luck.
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Apesanahkwat
Fun Facts: Jon Bernthal lost four toenails filming the trailer scene.