Wind River – movie review

by James Robins / 13 September, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Wind River

FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) and wildlife officer Cory (Jeremy Renner): snow and silence.

Shootouts with hints of the Wild West fill this morality tale.

Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan is an astute observer of the decay of American life. His films are rich with the iconography of the old ways – heroic cowboys, virtuous cops – but seethe under the weight of history and its consequences. His Sicario (directed by Denis Villeneuve) saw a determined FBI officer cross the Mexican border and find the drug war corrupting everything it touched. In Hell or High Water (directed by David Mackenzie), an economically destitute west Texas became a playground for righteous robbers.

Wind River may be Sheridan’s final panel in this triptych of morality tales. This time he directs his own script, a murder tale set on a Shoshone Native American reservation in Wyoming.

It begins with a teen in thin bloodstained pants and no shoes fleeing something terrible. Her body is found on a mountain, amid the “snow and silence”, by Cory (Jeremy Renner), a wildlife officer with more than a hint of cowboy stolidity. This being native land, an FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), gets involved, but she’s unprepared for the bleakness of the locale and its residents’ bitterness.

 

Sheridan deftly weaves together this grim outlook with the pulse of narrative. But it’s a slow pulse – more glassy and still than tensely supercharged, as Sicario was. Wind River’s best moments are conversations between men who’ve lost everything: Cory finds the murdered girl’s father (Gil Birmingham) sitting in his front yard clutching a gun, his features smeared in paint. “What’s that?” he asks. “It’s my death face,” he responds. But he doesn’t know what a Shoshone death face looks like. There’s no one left to teach him. The ancient punishments inflicted on America’s indigenous people still linger.

If there is one flaw in Sheridan’s otherwise exemplary style, it is his tendency to resolve plot dilemmas with a chaotic shootout. Then again, this is America, where disputes often seem to end at the hollow end of a gun.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★★

This article was first published in the August 5, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Why are so many people unwilling to share the road with bikes?
87370 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

Why are so many people unwilling to share the road…

by Rebecca Macfie

Cycling has the potential to make us healthier and happier, and our cities less congested and polluted. So why are so many people against it?

Read more
No sex, please, we're Aussies
87452 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z World

No sex, please, we're Aussies

by Bernard Lagan

Former Aussie Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is scorned for being not only a philanderer but, worse, a Kiwi.

Read more
Why trees in the cities need protecting
86194 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z Environment

Why trees in the cities need protecting

by Margo White

Cities are losing their big trees at an alarming rate. At what cost to our health and wellbeing?

Read more
Here and Now is a masterclass in American disenchantment
87425 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z Television

Here and Now is a masterclass in American disencha…

by Diana Wichtel

Watching an actual Nazi run for US Congress, maybe Here and Now is right.

Read more
How to lose weight without a diet
87141 2018-02-25 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to lose weight without a diet

by Jennifer Bowden

"The irony is the intentional pursuit of weight loss – dieting, in other words – is actually a predictor of future weight gain."

Read more
Baby boomers are rethinking retirement for a later-life reboot
87313 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Social issues

Baby boomers are rethinking retirement for a later…

by Sally Blundell

The biggest cohort of baby boomers is reaching retirement age – and many are not planning a quiet dotage.

Read more
School shootings and Russian indictments
87455 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z World

School shootings and Russian indictments

by Joanne Black

Slaughter in a school and Russian social-media mischief: the US is under siege.

Read more
Beck to go back to basics at Auckland City Limits
87417 2018-02-24 00:00:00Z Profiles

Beck to go back to basics at Auckland City Limits

by James Belfield

Before headlining Auckland City Limits, Beck talks about celebrating his musical past on stage and on record.

Read more