‘Luck don’t live out here.’
We may only be a third of the way through the month, so perhaps some will think it too early to call it, but I reckon that Wind River will be the biggest cinema surprise of September. Having seen the trailer on what felt like repeat during most cinema events of recent weeks I went in with minimal expectations, believing it to be a generic thriller set in an isolated community. More fool me – especially considering it’s helmed by Taylor Sheridan who did such wonderful things with the screenplays of both Sicario (2015 – click here to read my review) and Hell Or High Water (2016 – click here to read my review). With Wind River, which Sheridan both wrote and directed, he has created a trilogy of three fantastic movies that, whilst being hugely different are brilliantly connected.
Each of the three focuses on a community that rarely gets a cinematic showcase, or when it does tends to be in a manner less understanding or authentic than the one Sheridan achieves. In the case of Wind River the community being focused upon is an American Indian reservation in Wyoming. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a wildlife officer, a man with a great expertise of threats to the community, who finds the body of an eighteen year old woman whilst out tracking a mountain lion. An FBI agent is required to aid the cause of death decision, agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is the one nearest by and goes to attend the scene – even though she has no experience of the area or the community. The autopsy reveals that the young woman was raped, leading Jane to team up with Cory to investigate – putting their lives in great danger in the process.
Where Sheridan’s films really seem to excel is in their degree of subtlety in portraying disenfranchised communities, they play out a skillfully constructed manner that is less about exposing or condemning and more about offering a brief and momentary insight. His characters don’t want to change the world, they simply want to survive living in it. The nature of community ties and the haunting of the past are beautifully explored in all three.
Within Wind River is is Renner who is perhaps the greatest revelation in this aspect, having spent recent years residing in blockbuster cinema it had become easy to forget how good he can be. I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone who could have done a better job than the one he does with this role. It’s an immensely subtle performance, to an almost extraordinary extent. Gil Birmingham also features as the bereaved father (having previously been in Hell Or High Water) and does some fantastic things with a relatively small amount of screen time. He is a man who truly deserves more roles.
Revealing any more about the film would do an injustice to the film and the watching of it. Go see it as this is a film that is told with confidence not arrogance. A film that will keep you fixated upon the screen, tensely watching and leaving with a bone-chill connoted by the title.