Wind River – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Wind River – 4/5 –  There is a feeling you get when watching a film.  It is a feeling that draws on that pure sensation that is simply undefinable.  No matter if the emotion is dire, amazing, tragic or moving; that simple thought is drawn in the sand.  In short, simple is sometimes all a film needs to be great.  Wind River is one that focuses on a general crime/drama tale.  From the overall story, characters and encapsulated themes; Wind River strikes that balance of predictability but efficient storytelling.  Even with a very linear path, Wind River provides that hearty experience that only a small crime story can tell.

Premise:  A veteran tracker and an FBI agent work together to solve the murder of a young Native American woman.

Being a small story means a greater emphasis on the main character(s).  At the heart of the film are:

Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert

Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner

Jeremy Renner plays a veteran tracker who works for the local tribe while Elizabeth Olsen plays an FBI agent brought in to solve the homicide on the Wind River Reservation.  Between the two, you see a combination of power, sophistication and flaws of these two individual.  On screen, they show what it means to be human when faced with natural and physical odds.  As Cory Lambert, Renner gives you a man with a mysterious past.  He faces parallels of hardships by helping the FBI agent solve the crime.  As Jane Banner, Olsen is conflicted with finding the truth without overbearing the atmosphere that hovers over the tribe and Lambert.  These conflicts draw out a deepening relationship, one that shows what is at stake for Lambert and Banner.  Faced with family, career and dangerous elements, both must face truths confronting them in the Wyoming wilderness.  It is pleasant to see deeply woven characters that represent the simple nature of hardship, pain and finding peace.  It is something that everyone faces at some point in their lives.  It is a reflection that allows you to gravitate to the main characters.  For the rest of the cast, you can refer to the film’s IMDb page.  In short, the supporting characters do a wonderful job providing enough development to the family and social elements of the tribe.  Seeing how intricate each aspect of the Native American Community is to the overall story, it allows for layers of fragility to come throughout the story.  Each supporting character provides a backstory to Lambert, showing purpose in every aspect of the film.  Even when some characters are typical archetypes found in any crime/drama, the clichés never hamper the experience.

The direction blends the basic outline of a crime/drama film within the Native American Community.  Seeing a simple outline helps bring out the raw nature that is part of the Wyoming Tribe.  Seeing the starting point come from culture and basic human will, you have a sense of ‘purpose’ to the characters.  Once the film gets past the prologue, we get a general introduction to:

The main characters (Lambert and Banner)

The setting (Wyoming and the Wind River tribe)

Plot points centered around the main crime (A dead woman found in the wilderness)

From here, the film unfolds the investigation at a very methodical pace.  This pace parallels the situation, setting and main character(s) development.  This allows for an organic transition between the linearity of the crime/drama genre with the characterization of Lambert and Banner.  Seeing them interact shows a dire need of finding peace within themselves.  Because of current and past issues, the evolving layers of the crime reveals a more human aspect to the story.  There is a strong thematic presence that revolves around 21st century crime statistic and Native American culture.  This pushes the film past the generic crime/drama elements, showing proof in the characterized approach.  This allows for the aspect of nature, willpower and the spirit to have a strong presence.  Seeing the characters learn to live through pain is another strong aspect of the film.  Once all the investigative elements reveal the crime through convenient plot devices, flashbacks and gun standoffs; the revelation of truths become witness to the spirit of everyone.  Once the climax hits, it is befitting of the ‘full circle’ mantra, showing how each character deals with the outcome of the crime.  Once you get to the epilogue, you see that this simple story has strong awareness at heart.

The cinematography is a grand scale of naturalistic settings.  Seeing the emphasize on a Native American Reservation, you are witness to the luscious landscapes of Wyoming.  From the vast fields, snow capes and mountainous terrain, you feel a shiver honesty in the visual appeal.  With the wilderness being untampered by camera or CGI elements, it allows for the characters and story elements to blend with the world.  The score has minimal presence.  The music isn’t an important aspect of the film.

Wind River is a simple crime/drama tale that does much more within the context of its story.  With the focus on character, Native American culture and a linear narrative, you are witness to a masterpiece of storytelling.  If you’re a fan of crime/dramas, great acting or good films, this is one for you.  I say this is worth a full price, worth seeing with the family.

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