Jean-Paul’s Rating: 5/5 stars
Bottom Line: A riveting and compelling character driven drama. From the same guy who brought you “Hell or High Water”, which was also awesome.
Despair, grief, loss, and the absence of hope. Welcome to “Wind River”. This is not a happy film, but my god is it beautiful. It is set in the Wind River Reservation of Wyoming, a rough and rugged land where, as they say in the movie, you sometimes have to travel 50 miles to get 5 miles away. The movie is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote the excellent “Hell or High Water”. Like “Hell or High Water”, it is a crime drama, but only as a vehicle for portraying desperate characters in desperate situations.
The crime in which this tale is wound around is the death of a young Native American woman under suspicious circumstances. A Native American dying under unusual circumstances on Reservation land triggers a call to the FBI who have jurisdiction under such circumstances. The FBI, unfortunately, doesn’t give two shits about a woman dying on Reservation land. Luckily, the FBI sends Jane Banner (Elisabeth Olsen) who is both competent and has a heart even if she has no idea what she’s getting into. She asks Fish and Wildlife employee Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), who found the young girl’s body, to help her find out what happened.
Through this young girl’s death you get a glimpse into life on the Reservation. All the Native Americans know that the rest of the world has forgotten them and it shows in their disdain for Jane. Cory is divorced with a son who stays with his ex and lost his own daughter under similar circumstances and never found out exactly what happened to her so he has personal reasons to help Jane in her investigation. Martin (Gil Birmingham) is the father of the dead girl, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), who was his last thread on sanity having to live with a son who has lost himself in drugs and a wife who is mentally ill. You can see that this is not a happy movie.
The Wind River Reservation may be rugged and unforgiving, but it is picturesque. That, along with the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack make “Wind River” even more compelling. It is also very sad. If you don’t like sadness, stay away. Other than that, this is a movie you should definitely go see. Then see “Hell or High Water” after it.