Wind River: a review


I watched Wind River at home the other night with my husband. Because we really enjoyed writer/director Taylor Sheridan’s most recent works, Sicario and Hell or High Water, we were itching to see this film. We were not disappointed. This is a good thriller that pretty much guarantees that I would watch anything else that Sheridan wrote. I like his style.



Wind River stars Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert, a government employee of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who stumbles upon a dead body. Because it is a suspected homicide victim, found on the Wind River Indian Reservation, the FBI sends their closest available agent, Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen. We learn a bit about life in this remote community as we watch the investigation unfold.

This film is a murder mystery, thriller and fish out of water tale. With the exception of a few scenes of horrible violence, it is quiet and contemplative with bursts of tense action on a backdrop of beautiful snow covered mountains. It is well paced and has good dialogue. There is a satisfying conclusion and yet questions still remain for me to ponder. There is a subtle humour woven into what is essentially a sad story of brutality, loss, survival, and justice.

My biggest complaint was that this film suffered from the white saviour trope. Jeremy Renner did a fine job with what he was given; however, if he swapped roles with Gil Birmingham  (a wonderful actor, playing the victim’s father, who is woefully under-utilized ), I think I would have admired this film more. Truth be told, there was very little character development in this film, beyond Renner’s role. Elizabeth Olsen was serviceable as a foil, clearly out of her depth during the investigation. I also wished Graham Greene had more to do; every scene he had was golden.

Despite these quibbles, Wind River is a good mystery that will haunt you. If you can handle the brief violence, then I would definitely recommend it.


Hell or High Water: Western-Noir for our times, a review



Last Saturday was movie night again at our friends’ (Karen and Steve) house. All four of us had fun watching this on a beautiful brand new entertainment system.


This film took us along on a suspenseful crime spree through small town Texas. We watched 2 brothers as they robbed banks and we also followed the lawmen, who were hot on their trail. This is such an oversimplification, but to say more would risk too much. The reasons for the robberies were initially unclear but gradually we understood. Boy oh boy, there was great satisfaction in watching a rather genius plan unfold. But would they get away with it? The beauty of this movie lies in the motivation of the crimes. The true heart of this film was subtle, yet it eloquently gave us a glimpse at the lives of simple folk.

The reveal is doled out in alternating moments of quiet contemplation and high stakes tension. This is a story about real lives, set in a real place. It is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Yes, there is quite a bit of humour in this dark suspenseful tale. I also love the way it sneaks in some scathing social commentary. The cinematography is stunning rendering Texas an important character of the film. The acting is outstanding. Jeff Bridges is nominated for a supporting Oscar in his role as a senior Texas Ranger, determined to bring the culprits to justice. Gil Birmingham is fantastic as his younger colleague  and verbal jousting partner. Ben Foster, a talented chameleon of an actor, plays the ex-con brother with charm, tenderness and unique code of honour. But it is Chris Pine who surprised me. I should preface this by stating that I am not a fan of Pine, primarily because I have seen him in the same role too many times. Mostly cocky young men, of which James T. Kirk in the new Star Trek reboot is quintessential. His acting, until now, has been just too smarmy for my taste. Finally, this film allows him to stretch in a different, more sincere direction. In this film he plays the brother who has always played it straight and for that, he seems beaten down by the world at large. The film is directed with subtle detail by David Mackenzie, who is new to me.

Special credit must be given to Taylor Sheridan, the writer of this original screenplay. Even his bit characters are magnificent. I was so happy to learn that he has been honoured with an Oscar nomination. He is also known for another tense thriller, Sicario, which I reviewed (and thoroughly enjoyed) over a year ago. He has come a long way from a struggling actor in 2010 to a celebrated screenwriter of original stories. I will definitely keep a lookout for his next project to hit the big screen.

If you like tightly plotted western or crime films, great dialogue and a story that you have never seen on screen before, then this film is worth a look.






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