In theaters from writer/director Taylor Sheridan and The Weinstein Company is the mystery and murder on “Wind River.”
Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is a Fish and Game Agent who sometimes must hunt down animals that kill ranchers’ herds. While following the tracks of a mountain lion, Lambert comes across human tracks. Following them he finds the body of a young girl.
On Native American lands, Lambert calls Ben (Graham Greene) the local law enforcement who also calls federal officer Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Clearly not ready to take on a case like this, she asks Lambert to assist in finding out who is responsible.
Lambert agrees but only because the young girl, Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) is the daughter of his dear friend Martin (Gil Birmingham). He understands his pain all to which makes him promise Martin that the murderer will be caught. Banner looks to Lambert who begins to put the pieces together but in an unconventional way.
What becomes clear is that the truth with far more shocking than anyone could imagine.
Renner as Lambert is an introspective person but that’s brought on by tragedy of his own. His character finds solace being a tracker and Renner gives Lambert a stoic disposition that keeps him focused. The scenes between Renner and Birmingham are absolutely stunning, moving and their relationship becomes even clearer to the audience taking my breath away. Renner always brings something memorable to his characters and in “Wind River” it is heart.
Olsen as Banner is a young FBI officer who isn’t prepared for the case or the weather. This is a character that is tested in every way and isn’t very welcomes by the indigenous people on the reservation. Their trust in the outside world has been filled with disappointments and lies which puts Banner immediately at odds with them.
Greene as Ben is the law enforcement that has a wicked and biting sense of humor. Feeling as if the case is going to get mishandled, he is with Lambert almost every step of the way to ensure justice is done — even if that justice is tribal. I love that Greene is in this film and with a face that doesn’t give anything away, he adds to the mysteriousness of it all.
Birmingham as Martin has another fantastic role of a father dealing with not only the death of his daughter but feeling helpless about their situation all together. He knows that Lambert understands him and knows between his friend and Ben — something will get done. This isn’t Birmingham’s first go around with a Taylor Sheridan film playing Alberto Parker in “Hell or High Water,” another amazing role.
Other cast include Julia Jones as Wilma, Teo Briones as Casey, Apesanahkwat as Dan Crowheart, Tantoo Cardinal as Alice Crowheart, Eric Lange as Dr. Whitehurst, Althea Sam as Annie, Tokala Clifford as Sam Littlefeather, Martin Sensmeier as Chip, Tyler Laracca as Frank, Blake Robbins as Tim, Norman Lehnert as Dale, James Jordan as Pete, Matthew Del Negro as Dillon, Hugh Dillon as Curtis, Ian Bohen as Evan, Austin Grant as Carl and Jon Bernthal as Matt.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Wind River” four tubs of popcorn out of five. First of all, the cinematographer is amazing set up in the wilderness and harsh setting of winter. It sets the stage for the harshness of the story that is being told drawing you in completely. There is an innate sadness in it and once the story takes off, it becomes clear that there is another story wrapped in.
Renner and Olsen are in it completely character wise and it is such a pleasure to see Greene, Apesanahkwat and Crowheart brought to the screen. Portraying Native American characters called for one thing absolutely — that they should be portrayed by Native American actors to which I give Sheridan much appreciation.
That story is Native American women are attacked so much more than anyone has ever been made aware of. That becomes clear by the end of the film along with the injustice and hopelessness those living on the reservations live with. From drugs to the taking of their land by, in this case, an oil company, Sheridan makes it clear that none of this should continue to be ignored.
“Wind River” has a few bumps here and there but nothing that bothers me in the slightest. The performances stand out and the story is harsh and believable from start to finish. Capturing it all in the rough setting gives the film another character that doesn’t need to say a word — it is quite clear.
In the end — nothing is harder to track than the truth!