It’s unfortunate that Wind River is a Weinstein production, thus likely squashing any hope for awards consideration, because it is a fantastic film. Tyler Sheridan’s career is as promising as any young filmmaker’s, because his genre stylings won’t age and his directorial prowess will only improve.
Wind River’s stars are Jeremy Renner as a Game and Wildlife deputy and Elizabeth Olsen as a green FBI agent from the big city. Renner’s measured, stoic performance is spectacular and cannot be overpraised—its Gary Cooper-level shit. Olsen struggles, especially when measured against Emily Blunt in Sicario. Either Olsen was not given the time to prepare or was totally miscast. I would side with the latter. Though, the Native actors are all great, especially the veteran Graham Greene, playing the reservation’s pragmatic sheriff.
The flashback that serves as half of the film’s climax is a showcase for John Bernthal and Kelsey Asbille and is a great screenwriting trick. It took an actor of Bernthal’s charisma to pull out the requisite empathy from the audience and make them truly experience the pure horror.
Sheridan’s films share similar themes. Wind River is violent and bleak, pushing the shadows of life to the fore. Additionally, it explores the complicated relationships between the white man and the natives on U.S. Indian Reservations. It is not for everyone. The violence is unadulterated and real. It pushes the viewer to cognize an underclass of people in a region of which most Americans are unaware. In a way, the oversized shadow of sexual abuse in the film industry that has ensured that the legacy of this film is that of being underseen and underappreciated will be the perfect irony.