Something I didn’t know about until now was that Taylor Sheridan, mostly known for his role in Sons of Anarchy, Deputy David Hale, has written and directed some really great movies. He wrote Sicario, he wrote Hell or High Water (which is #3 of my best of 2016 list), and he wrote and directed this movie as well.
Wind River is a movie I didn’t even know existed until I checked the movie times, so if you didn’t know anything about this movie either, then here’s a synopsis in 20 words or less:
Unfortunate events leads a hunter and FBI agent to solve the rape and murder of a girl, with minimal assistance.
And while the premise isn’t necessarily unique, the writing, directing, and performances really boosted this movie into an absolutely enthralling, heart-wrenching experience.
The two leads in this movie are absolutely fantastic. This is easily the best performance I’ve seen from Jeremy Renner, and this is most likely the best performance I’ve seen from Elizabeth Olsen. Both of them play actual characters, and it is easy to like, understand, and relate to them. There’s not a single weak performance in this movie; everyone plays their role well.
The music in the film complimented the story and kept the tone consistent throughout. The camera work was rather fantastic throughout with the best shots being the moments of intensity. With Wind River, Sicario, and Hell or High Water all in mind, it’s easy to see that Taylor Sheridan’s strength is writing normal characters into very realistic and terrible danger, and it is always done in a way that has you invested in their struggles.
The film has an exceptional ability to relay information at perfect moments. Certain elements of people’s backstories are revealed at pivotal points in the plot, and it’s never revealed abruptly for no reason, and it’s never done in unnecessarily expository dialogue.
This movie is dark, depressing, and at times disturbing. In fact, I think there is enough in this film to make it un-recommendable to certain audiences. And if you’re someone who is interested in this movie, but might be scared of what exactly might be disturbing in this film, I’ll list the things below.
Fair warning, it will spoil elements of the film.
There’s a scene were they show a woman getting raped (which lasts about 20 seconds). There’s a scene that shows a dead, naked body being eaten by a hawk. There’s a scene where a woman is self-mutilating herself. And I’m pretty sure a wild coyote gets killed on camera (but if wasn’t actually killed, they sure made it look like it).
The critiques I have for this movie are few and almost not worth mentioning: I’m sure some people might call this movie slow at times. There’s a scene close to the end that I argue back-and-forth whether or not it was too poetic and coincidental.
But the biggest critique that I have is that the movie has an agenda. It’s made relatively obvious throughout certain scenes of the film, but if you don’t catch it, the film will blatantly tell you before the end credits.
However, the reason this doesn’t sink the whole film, aside from every other element being fantastic, is that its agenda is used more as a story element than it is used to beat you over the head with a point. The ratio between using the agenda as a story element and using it as a message megaphone is 90 to 10. So with that said, it doesn’t really feel right to fault the movie too much for wanting to make a point, especially since they don’t make it the end-all to the whole story.
This movie is brilliant, effective, and well executed. If disturbing content isn’t something that sways you away from seeing a film, then I would highly recommend seeing it. I’m afraid it won’t make it’s money back in the box office because I have barely heard anything about it. So if it interests you, then see it before it leaves theaters.