WIND RIVER concludes writer/director Taylor Sheridan’s “American Frontier trilogy” that started with Sicario, and was followed up by Hell or High Water, both of which ended up on my best lists at the end of the year. Even though I don’t consider Sicario part of that trilogy (especially since it itself is having a sequel coming out next year and doesn’t really have the same feel as High Water or Wind River), I guess since people are grouping those three together, I will have to as well. And if so, my friends, this is one of those rare perfect “in spirit of” trilogies that is absolutely perfect, because not only is Wind River a masterpiece as well, but it will definitely be on my best list at the end of the year. Not as high as Hell or High Water (that was #1, but definitely above Sicario).
You probably haven’t even fucking heard of Wind River. Which is fine because it is another independent film, but you should soon hear of it for Oscar noms and the fact that it stars to Avengers, Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch). The movie takes place in Wyoming and it is about a US Fish and Wildlife Service Agent and an FBI agent who try to solve a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Jeremy Renner finds a young woman frozen to death but foul play seems to be involved as it looks like she was raped before dying. Then Jeremy Renner uses his knowledge of tracking to help the FBI agent played by Olsen to find the criminals, looking for some solace in a tragic past that Renner himself experienced.
The cinematography in this film is absolutely beautiful. Every shot is expertly planned and I felt like I was out there in the snow with the entire cast. The tone, atmosphere, and mood of the film made me feel a bitter chill while watching the movie, exactly what I was supposed to feel. And the acting is absolutely top notch. Elizabeth Olsen proves that she needs more Oscar heavy fair, and Jeremy Renner gives his best performance since his Oscar nominated ones in The Town and Zero Dark Thirty.
Even though this is basically a “who-dun-it” mystery, don’t go in expecting a lot of twists and turns. It’s a straight forward investigation that goes absolutely haywire in it’s climax with a bittersweet kind of ending. The reveal of what happened is sad and absolutely horrifying, knowing that something so small can escalate into something so terrifying and nightmarish. The dialogue is smart, quip, and it feels as though real people are talking in the real world. Every character is well rounded and even the side characters, with little screen time, are three dimensional.
Wind River is an incredible masterpiece and a film I could watch over and over again. Taylor Sheridan is joining Tarantino, Mamet, and Boal as one of my favorite screenwriters of all time. His way with actors, words, character, stories, basically everything is thought provoking as well as thought out. We need more deary snow setting murder mystery movies. This chilled me to the bone and I loved every second. It is playing in a bunch of theaters now when it was limited last week, so you should easily be able to check it out. Please, please do.