'Wind River' is a thrilling & chilling tale of survival
David Waterson • August 31 2017
Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, an expert tracker in the employment of the Fish and Wildlife Service who is called in to dispose of predators on the farms of Wyoming. Lambert is also a divorcee, the ex-husband of a Native American woman with whom he shares a tragic burden that both are struggling to overcome.
When a young woman goes missing on a Native American reserve, Lambert is tasked with assisting FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) in the investigation. As the duo make their way through the underbelly of this cold, windswept life lived on the edges, tainted by economic deprivation and despair, we're offered a hard-hitting and sobering portrait of the reality of the expanses of the US.
It's carefully controlled, atmospheric and sparse, but beautifully photographed and superbly acted tale of communities living on a frontier that is brutal and hard to survive in. Although it may be criticised for its focus on the still shameful treatment of Native Americans through the eyes of two white characters, Renner's complex performance as a man straddling the boundaries of two worlds keeps the film on solid dramatic ground.
It's certainly tersely thrilling and there's plenty of violence on screen, but it's all handled with an assured sense of dramatic tension. Life in the mountains is chilly, lonely and difficult.
Wind River shows us the emotional toil the struggle for survival takes on those who stick it out. That may not be an uplifting takeaway but it certainly feels, in Sheridan's hands, to be an undeniably true one.