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Wind River

(2017, Sheridan)
A film featuring Native American characters

"You don't catch wolves looking where they might be, you look where they've been."

Wind River follows Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a hunter for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a remote Wyoming town. During a routine hunt, he finds the raped and dead body of the daughter of a family friend in a local Indian reservation. When they bring young FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) to work the case, she enlists Lambert in the manhunt because of his hunting and tracking skills.

I hadn't heard much about Wind River, but my interest piqued when I read it was written/directed by Taylor Sheridan, who had previously done the excellent Hell or High Water. Since this seemed to be on a similar vibe, I didn't hesitate to check it out and it didn't disappoint. Certainly it isn't as good as Sheridan's previous films, but Wind River is still a neatly shot, well acted, incredibly tense film.

The film is loosely based in real-life accounts of rapes, murders, and disappearances of Indigenous women in the US. The story is pretty strong, even if the dialogue is at moments a bit clumsy. There are a couple of moments of bad expository dialogue and cringey interactions, but they are few and well scattered. What Sheridan does well is create a constant sense of oppression in these characters, which might be a result of their surroundings as well as their history and decisions.

Renner and Olsen are pretty solid. Unfortunately, her character doesn't really have an arc which makes her feel not fully realized. On the other hand, Renner has better moments to show depth and emotion, but overall treats his character as a subdued "badass", which seems a bit out of place with what seems to be his background. I would've appreciated if he would've let the vulnerability he shows in other moments to seep through all the film.

The cast is rounded up by Graham Greene, who is great as usual, if not underused, as well as some small parts by Gil Birmingham and Jon Bernthal. Overall, I enjoyed the film quite a bit, even if I would've preferred some things to be tighter and more polished.