“Wind River” is hands down one of the most compelling films I’ve seen in a while. From the opening scene, until the closing credits, I was gripped up, all in, invested in the journey taking place and the desperate search to find the truth behind an unspeakable crime and solve its mystery.
And with 4 1/2 stars and aggregate 87 % fresh critics and 93% audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, I’d say almost everyone who’s seen it is in agreement with my estimation.
Led by actors Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Captain America: Civil War) and Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron), and directed and written by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario), the film is a character driven mystery that centers around a rape/murder on the Wind River Indian Reserve in Wyoming.
Cleverly written, the screenplay starts with the audience’s introduction to a tragic occurrence, then back tracks and takes great care with character development before a tumultuous ending – needed ploys for a film that makes direct and poignant political observations about the struggles of Native American reservation life; which include limited police force/presence, high prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse, and the lack of opportunity/jobs and high poverty rates that contribute to a higher than average suicide rate in the Native American community.
One of the most unfortunate injustices highlighted, that spoke to the center of the film, is the lack of a database to account for the missing in the Native community. Unlike every other demographic/group in the States, there are no statistics kept for Native American women. In addition, Native American women are at the greatest risk for sexual violence, and are twice as likely to experience a rape or sexual assault compared to other races.
Although the action is not continuous, “Wind River” is powerful nonetheless and when the action does hit, it gut punches and stays with the viewer.
Both Olsen and Renner excel in their roles, removing any reminders of their Marvel characters (Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye respectively) when together on-screen. Both of their names, along with director Sheridan, should be at the forefront during the coming award season.
I found Elizabeth Olsen to be especially engaging as FBI agent Jane Banner – a newbie agent who was not only unprepared for the climate/weather on the reservation, but certainly not prepared for the magnitude of the crime upon which she’d stumbled. But her character wasn’t slow, and had an eerily similar Jodie Foster “Silence of the Lambs” moment that had me leaving the theater remembering how “badass” she was even with her limited experience.
In sum, “Wind River” deals with some extremely heavy topics, and there definitely is a sexual trigger warning. I wouldn’t recommend it for those who can’t cope or the faint of heart, but would encourage even those looking for continuous action, which it doesn’t have, to see it. It is simply good story telling, greatly acted, with a powerful message that sits with you long after the closing credits.
Until next thought, Thomasena