Quick Hit: Taylor Sheridan continues his hot streak with Wind River.
Writer Taylor Sheridan stormed onto the scene with Siciario in 2015 and continued with a strong follow-up in 2016’s Hell or High Water. It was exciting to hear that he had decided to step into the director’s chair for Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. To give a rough recap, Renner stars as Cory Lambert, a Wildlife officer who discovers a body while out on a hunt. FBI agent Jane Banner is assigned to the case, and recruits Lambert to assist her.
If you’ve seen Hell or High Water, you’ll know that Sheridan really knows how to build characters that support his film. Wind River is no different – the characters carry the film. Whether it’s Renner’s stoic Lambert, frequently fighting with his own inner demons, or Banner, obviously frustrated with the bureaucratic system that she works for, the characters speak volumes without blatantly stating so. That’s not necessarily the case for Wind as a whole – Sheridan makes it very, very clear what the movie is about – but the characters are still built in an understated way.
A lot can be said for the beautiful shots within the film, and the periodic violence that punctuates and accents these shots. The film is wonderful to look at – with a lot of dialogue continuing to accent the weather. The dialogue is often simple, with very little extraneous wording. I particularly liked the character Ben (played by Graham Greene), the local sheriff on the Wind River reservation, and his delivery of different lines (he’s also given some of the very few humorous lines in the film).
Some of the things that drag the film down are its obvious pointedness. There’s times where the point of the movie is stated (and repeated and repeated). It even gets to the point where it is stated at the end of the screen. I’m not against this, particularly when it’s for a reason (like drawing attention to a plight of a people), but here it’s so direct that it feels a bit like brow-beating.
This is another film, kind of like the one that we put up on Wednesday (It Comes at Night) that has a distinct Cormac McCarthy feel to it. It’s bleak as hell, and really makes you wrench up your insides. There’re very few jokes in here to break up this film’s landscape, which is also reflective of the films cinematography. The film’s landscape is filled with nothing but snow (Elizabeth Olsen ended up with snow blindness as a result of this film – fun fact). But there is so much more than a blank landscape here. There's a rape scene in this that is indicative of The Last House on the Left, and hurts nearly as much to watch. I don’t mind bleak, but this week at DFP has been a bit of a downer.
All in all, Wind River is a terrific thriller with a message that you can’t miss. The film is terrifically acted, well-written, and beautifully shot. I’d recommend it if you have time. I’m giving it a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"