Wind River
dir-scr Taylor Sheridan
prd Basil Iwanyk, Peter Berg, Matthew George, Wayne Rogers
with Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Martin Sensmeier, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, James Jordan, Hugh Dillon, Apesanahkwat, Tantoo Cardinal
release US 4.Aug.17, UK 8.Sep.17
17/US 1h51
Wind River
Another grisly discovery: Olsen and Renner

greene birmingham bernthal
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Wind River Dark and sometimes downright nasty, this investigative thriller combines powerfully intense drama and deep emotions in a setting that's both beautiful and terrifying. Writer-director Taylor Sheridan tells the story with real skill, bringing out superb character details even when things feel perhaps a bit too neatly orchestrated. And it's so layered with subtext that it keeps our minds spinning.

In snowy late-winter Wyoming, Natalie (Asbille) is discovered dead on the Wind River Reservation. FBI agent Jane (Olsen) arrives to investigate, working with local native American sheriff Ben (Greene) as well as Fish & Wildlife officer Cory (Renner), who knows the icy mountainous terrain better than anyone. Cory also has a personal connection, as Natalie was the best friend of his daughter, who was killed two years earlier. The two cases are unrelated except for the emotions they churn up. But the resonance means that Cory has serious motivation to track down the killer.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Sheridan is making a pointed comment about the injustice that still surrounds the native American community, as harrowing plot points and barbed lines of dialog drive this theme home. But the specific journeys taken by both Cory and Jane are also strongly engaging, and each carries its own specific kick. Cory is the strong, silent type who keeps his feelings hidden under his efficient, one might say icy, exterior. While Jane knows she's in over her head, and needs to realise that she's actually up to the task.

Both Renner and Olsen are terrific in their roles, bringing out their characters' personalities and inner issues in clever ways that deepen everything that happens to them. Their big emotional scenes are seriously wrenching, as are the gritty action beats that shake them up physically and mentally. Greene offers solid support as the sardonic local official who knows that there's little he can do to improve his community. And as Natalie's father, Birmingham has some remarkably moving moments of his own.

The film is quietly unsettling and unafraid to lean into some very, very dark events. Ben Richardson's cinematography turns the spectacular wintry location into a character all its own, amplified by an edgy-moody score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. But what makes this thriller notable is its quiet determination to explore the underlying thoughts and feelings of its characters, becoming a profound rumination on the nature of grief. This means that, for a police drama, it's remarkably haunting.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 21.Aug.17

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