Wind River

By Angie Raphael

4 stars

There is one brutal scene in particular in Wind River that is so disturbingly confronting that I am still not quite over it. The story itself is not particularly unique, but it is the way writer/director Taylor Sheridan slowly reveals the tale that is so powerfully memorable and quite devastating. Whether he has done it intentionally or not, the film also bears relevance to current social issues about sexual violence. Wind River is about wildlife officer Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who stumbles upon the body of an 18-year-old woman, who has been raped and left in the snow at an Indian reservation. Rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is out of her depth in the wintery climate and needs Cory's help to solve the crime. 

Gil Birmingham, who plays the victim's grieving father, is the stand-out actor in the film and Renner also gives one of his strongest performances. Olsen is good too, but her character is often a damsel in distress.‬ Jane is a fish out of water, which provides a few lighter moments in an otherwise very dark film, but for all the dialogue suggesting she is a strong and smart person, her actions are actually sometimes a bit too stupid. She does however have a few moments where she outdoes the men around her. Sheridan also weaves in a few too many impassioned speeches and it is doubtful these characters would actually speak that way. But he does keep the pace and shocks of the story moving quickly. The cinematography also beautifully captures the isolation and natural wonder of the Wyoming wilderness. You can almost feel the tortuously freezing temperatures depicted on screen. Wind River is a very good crime thriller.