Friday, 8 September 2017

Wind River - Movie Review

Whilst Taylor Sheridan had some mild success in acting, most notably with his role on the FX show Sons of Anarchy, it was when he stepped into the creative side of filmmaking that he became an unsung force of brilliance. He started out by writing Sicario, a pulsating thriller on the war on drugs in Mexico that pulled you in with its dark toned action and excellent characters, before taking on Hell or High Water, which was a brilliant crime movie that blended together Western themes with its bank robbery storyline and had amazing characters once more. He had made a directorial debut with low budget horror flick Vile but Wind River is his true step up to the big leagues.


Wind River follows hunter Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) as he discovers the dead body of a young woman who lived on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Having found her body bloody, bruised and frostbitten thanks to her wearing no footwear in the snowy Wyoming valleys, Lambert teams up with naïve FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to find out who is responsible for the death of the girl and bring justice upon them.


As with the previous films that Sheridan has written, Wind River is a bleak and gloomy film, but in a beneficial way. The script manages to create a dark and foreboding atmosphere as you wonder just how the mystery of the girl’s death will unfold. The revelation of this death is deeply disturbing to watch thanks to the sexual violence that occurs alongside the physical, whilst it also works to change your perception of the person thought to be the perpetrator of the crimes. A strong cast helps to push this script along marvellously; Sheridan’s previous films have had excellent casting and this film is no exception. Renner gives a world-weary sensibility to his character, a man who has lost his own daughter and subsequently split up with his wife, making it feel as though he’s losing joy in his life whilst not managing to be dreary in the slightest. Renner’s natural charms continue to shine through with his interactions with the heroic characters and there are many times where he has moments of badassery, particularly near the end where he encounters the real perpetrator of the homicide. Olsen is also strong, playing a woman who’s clearly out of her depths in the cold and snowy lands of Wind River (to the degree that she doesn’t have winter gear when she initially arrives) but manages to overcome these issues to achieve many moments of awesomeness, being a character that’s vulnerable and strong at the same time, reminiscent somewhat of Emily Blunt’s character from Sicario.

The technical aspects of Wind River are what really drive it over the top. The film is directed incredibly well, showing off every shot of Wind River in glorious detail – the lands manage to look both dangerous, with its barren atmosphere and brutally cold feel, and beautiful with the camerawork managing to capture the glorious snowy valleys and mountain peaks. This manages to make Wind River look both scary and alluring at the same time. Action scenes are very well shot and use shaky cam at just the right moments, using them for the tensest and most unpredictable action scenes, such as when Banner is maced whilst trying to interrogate potential witnesses and subsequently running into the house where they live to catch them. Concluding the films technical merits is the score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis; the duo create a haunting vibe with their music thanks to the reliance on string instruments that get increasingly heavier during the darker moments of the film. These all add up to make a film that’s darkly atmospheric and stunning to watch despite its bleaker moments.


Wind River shows a new path in the career of Taylor Sheridan pulled off well; he’s shown how he can step into the role of director with great panache and craft a film that’s deeply brooding with its heavy themes and yet a stunner to look at with its beautiful visual aesthetic. Accompanied by very strong acting that’s the norm in films by Sheridan and a brilliant score by the legendary Nick Cave, Wind River adds up to be a pulsating and thoughtful thriller that delivers on the tenseness of the scenarios and helps to push it up a notch from a standard murder mystery. 


Wind River – written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, produced by Peter Berg, Elizabeth A. Bell, Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk and Wayne Rogers, starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham and Jon Bernthal. A Riverstone Pictures/Voltage Pictures/Wild Bunch/Ingenious Media/Thunder Road Pictures/Film 44 production, a Weinstein Company film

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