When a local girl is found dead on the ice, beaten and raped by an unknown assailant, the Wind River Indian Reservation is shaken to its core. Whilst out hunting a pack of mountain lions, local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agent, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), finds himself reliving the horrors of his past when he stumbles upon Natalie’s (Kelsey Asbille) frozen body.
Local police chief, Ben (Graham Greene), calls for the assistance of the FBI; this investigative pairing is one which neither parties know how to handle. The FBI end up sending lone agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) into the frost-bitten town, unprepared and unaware of the chilling case which awaits her.
With little to no knowledge of the land and its people, Jane ends up enlisting the help of expert-hunter Cory in her investigation.
The residents of Wind River must now work alongside a federal force they have long survived without to ensure no more families are broken by the murderous secrets tainting their once-peaceful reservation.
Jeremy Renner… murder… snow… Jeremy Renner in the snow solving a murder… if it isn’t obvious, I was hooked to the idea of this film when I first watched the trailer (as well as the numerous promotions the actors posted on their social media on the lead-up to Sundance). And, it’s safe to say, that I truly wasn’t disappointed.
More often than not, films of this particular standing and genre have a lot to live up to in the eyes of the audience considering the vast number of releases they have to compete against; particularly murder mysteries. That being said, Wind River has definitely stood its own and its award wins and nominations only back that up.
Throughout the film – but particularly during the first few opening sequences – there is a stark use of cinematography and colour in regards to the characters and their stories. For example, when Natalie’s body is found in the cold, she is predominately wearing icy blues and whites to symbolise her cold death. But, on the other spectrum, Cory blends into his surrounding landscape even when is off duty; opting instead for earthy tones rather than the snowsuit he opts for work.
Another visual point to note is that, unlike some films in this genre that I have watched, Wind River doesn’t shy away from the gory details. I found myself truly immersed in the story and the inclusion of such gory scenes as a vivid autopsy or self-mutilation really brought home the fact that this story is one which is played out across the globe. We get to see the effects which follow parents losing their children and the impact such a shock can have on even the smallest of towns.
As for the characters and the actors who bring them to life, the portrayals of these individuals is yet another reason the film is so hooking. Both Gil Birmingham (Natalie’s father) and Jeremy Renner provide powerful depictions of grieving fathers, lost without a face to blame for their tragedy. Whilst we might be seeing a strong, family man one second, our view of the characters is counteracted with the image of two broken souls when the friends become each other’s solace.
All in all, the story was definitely captivating, even when the action slowed down for some heart-to-heart screen time. The element of mystery behind the film kept me watching until the very end, and had me gripped with shock with each minute reveal. It’s no wonder this story has gained so much attention awards-wise.
If you couldn’t already tell from my previous praise, I highly recommend Wind River for anyone looking for a fresh new murder mystery. And, for fans of the Avengers, you don’t have to worry about getting your wires crossed with the dynamic duo of Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as their new relationship in this film throws aside any image of Hawkeye and Scarlett Witch.
Wind River is certainly one of those films that you could easily go back to when you wish to lose yourself for an hour or so. Even after discovering the answers to all my questions, I would happily return and watch the film another night as it is as visually pleasing to watch as it is to watch the mystery unravel before your eyes.
I’m sure that another viewing of Wind River will prompt even more reasons to sing its praise but, for now, I am satisfied enough with this gripping tale after only one watch.