Posted Sep 08 2017

Wind River - This Snowbound Movie Rocks - No Reservations

Dir: Taylor Sheridan

Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, Graham Greene, Julia Jones

Jeremy Renner is a curious beast. He announced himself in good fashion with The Hurt Locker. Built on that with The Town – albeit in a manner that emphasised that certain sleazy quality he seems unable to outrun. And he has the unenviable task of being probably everybody’s least favourite Avenger. And definitely everybody’s least favourite Bourne (in retrospect – what were they thinking? A ill-thought money-grab for all concerned that did nothing but annoy audiences – as much as it let them down.)

So it’s a pleasure to report that in Wind River, the erstwhile directorial debut of Hell or High Water and Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan, Renner is really remarkably good. Strongly underplayed throughout, the man brings gravitas to the role of a hunter – usually wolves or mountain lions – but caught up in the hunt for the killer of a young girl on the titular Native American reservation, an event that blows the winds of resonance and hurt very strongly back through his life. He’s joined by fellow Avenger (though people like her more) Elizabeth Olsen who matches him moment for moment. Indeed, one of the great joys of Sheridan’s film is how strong the entire cast is. If there was an Oscar for Best Ensemble, Wind River would very much be in with a shout. For this is a film in which its writer-director knows how to find a moment for every character, no matter how brief or minor, to shine, to appear real, to add to what is overall a solid and generally absorbing murder-mystery.

And primary amongst those characters is the landscape itself. The snow bound locales of the Wyoming mountains shape the drama here as much as any of the actions of its protagonists. Beautifully shot by Ben Richardson, Sheridan knows how to make his landscape breathe as much as his actors do, adding Warren Ellis’ compelling score into that mix to maximum effect.

Wind River certainly features some powerful work from its cast, none more so than the great Graham Greene, as the local police chief. It may also come to echo Sheridan’s Hell or High Water last year and – awards season wise – become the little film that could.


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