Monday, September 4, 2017
Wind River Review
"Wind River" starts out with a bang as we see a modern Native American girl running bare foot across miles of snow with a rather chilling monologue being repeated as she runs. Around the time the monologue finishes, she collapses in the snow, having reached the limit with whatever she was running from. From that point on, you know you are in for quite the ride. And it's certainly an intense ride that you get, albeit one that takes it's time in setting the scene and building the characters involved in this bleak, depressing tale. Shortly after the girl collapses, we are introduced to our main character of the film, that of Jeremy Renner, who plays a hunter on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. While out on the job, he runs into the body of this now dead Native American girl and thus we embark on this murder mystery thriller in the Wind River Reservation, which proves rather difficult given the scarcity of the police force in the area. They simply don't have the manpower to conduct the type of investigation necessary to easily solve this type of case on the level that us Caucasians do in a typical U.S. city. The best help they get is that of Elizabeth Olsen, the lone FBI agent called from out of town to help work on the case.
Perhaps I'm biased, but I would really love it if Jeremy Renner managed to get an Oscar nomination. I interviewed Jeremy Renner leading up to the movie "Arrival" last year for my internship, which is a fun experience that I enjoy bragging about to my friends. Hence the bias. But I honestly think he does a phenomenal job in this movie. Both him and Elizabeth Olsen. They did such a good job of becoming these characters and bringing the depth and emotion required to pull this off. Despite their extreme recognizability in Hollywood, it didn't even dawn on my until the end of the movie that we were watching Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch from "The Avengers" solve a murder mystery on a Native American reservation. I saw them as these characters in this film and I was fully invested in wanting them to succeed. When popular, recognizable actors can manage to disappear into their roles and make you see them as a character and not an actor, I think that's worthy of high praise. While Renner and Olsen are the leads in this movie, there are plenty of Native American characters in supporting roles who all do a fantastic job of setting the scene for the story that's being told. Simply put, without them there is no movie. You really feel for all them.
I don't really want to say too much about modern Native American culture since I know close to nothing about it. I have no idea if this movie is an accurate portrayal of the type of lifestyle these people go through or not. The struggles that the black community have faced and are still faced is well-reported and documented, which is why the social commentary in movies such as "Get Out" and "Moonlight" is so powerful. I think it's possible that "Wind River" provides similar social commentary for the Native American community, so I think it's possible that this could be an important movie to see, but I simply don't know enough one way or the other. At the very least, this movie gave me a desire to learn more about this culture and what life is like for these people. The awful treatment of the Native Americans back in the early days of this country are certainly well-documented. But how is life like for them now? One of the themes of the movie is that not many of us today are aware of what's going on in their lives on these reservations, which is why this movie made me curious to know more. I imagine life is not super ideal and thus if something awful like a murder of an 18-year-old girl were to happen, it would probably hurt even more.
It's fair to note that "Wind River" won't be for everyone. There are certain scenes that might be too much to handle for some, especially in the final act. But if you love yourself a good crime thriller, this is the movie this year that you need to show up for. There's a lot of build up to set the stage for what's happening. This could bore some. For me I really appreciated how it took the time to build the characters and make you truly care for them and what they are going through. Without all of that, I don't think the finale would be as rewarding as it is. I'm not going to talk spoilers about the final act. That would require a lot more explaining about the plot, anyways. But needless to say there is a moment in the end that punches you in the gut and sends you reeling. It's a very rewarding finale to a rather excellent film that I have to say is held together quite well by the score of the film as well as the beautiful cinematography and landscapes of Park City, Utah, which is right around the corner from where I live. The goal with all of that is to make you feel cold and it worked. I almost wanted to put on a coat in the theater and it was hot outside when I saw the movie. But yeah, don't miss this movie if thrillers are your thing. It's a highlight of 2017. I'm going to give "Wind River" a strong 9/10.