“Wind River” The Surprise Gem Of 2017

By Scott Kurland

Film: Wind River

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Julia Jones, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham,  James Jordan, and Apesanahkwat

Rated R

Director: Taylor Sheridan

                If you were to ask me who has emerged as the greatest screenwriter in the last five years, I’d have to say Taylor Sheridan. Sheridan appeared on the radar in 2015 with his script for “Sicario,” then last year his script for “Hell Or High Water” proved to be one of the best written films of 2016. Now Sheridan steps into the directors chair with his third film “Wind River.” Sheridan claims “Wind River” is the third film in the “Frontier Trilogy” which began two years ago with “Sicario.” Let’s see if Sheridan was the right man for the job of taking his own script from the page to the screen shall we?

  “Wind River” is a crime drama set on the Wind River Indian reservation of Wyoming. The film tells the tale of a young native American woman named Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) whose corpse is found in the snow by Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). Lambert is a local tracker and Agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife services working in part with the reservation’s Sheriffs department. Lambert holds a connection to Natalie because she was best friends with his late daughter, and thus he offers his services to FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Now Lambert and Banner must follow the killers trail in the snow before an impending storm wipes it away.

This is film is perfection. Its an intense film, but nevertheless its perfect. Sheridan’s writing always keeps you on your toes. Just when the plot appears to be heading in one direction, the film shifts. There’s no obvious villain until the end, and its only after its revealed that their true identity seems natural because of how they’re first introduced. Sheridan’s direction and ability to play with time elevates this film from from good to great. This isn’t a by-the-numbers film. This is a breath of fresh air, just as his previous films in this trilogy were. As part of this so- called “Frontier Trilogy” “Wind River” is the best and my favorite. It showcases just how much Sheridan has grown as a writer in just two short years. “Sicario” painted the scene, but has a few bumps. “Hell Or High Water” is mostly smooth sailing until you get to the end of the second act. Nevertheless, it still finds its footing. “Wind River” from beginning to end is well written and well directed by Sheridan.

What makes “Wind River” so strong is the performance of Jeremy Renner. Cory Lambert is a very, very complex character. The subtle pain-filled performance from Renner makes you root for this character. Chris Pine was originally cast, but he dropped out to make “Wonder Woman.” Lucky for us, we got Renner who gives an Oscar worthy performance. I left the theater talking about Renner’s performance. I spent a week thinking about his performance and how in awe I still am. Renner is such an underrated actor. Whether it is “The Hurtlocker” or “The Avengers” you’re going to get A-list acting from him. I hope the Academy remembers Renner come award season, because this is hands down the best performance of the year.

                “Wind River” works as a thriller, a drama, and most importantly, a crime story. The performances from Olsen and Renner are top notch. The script and direction from Taylor Sheridan proves how talented this guy truly is. Finally, this is type of film is a reminder of why we still go to the theater. We go to the movies because we’re looking for something great. “Wind River” is proof that fantastic films are out there hiding, waiting for people to come and find them. “Wind River” is one of the best films of 2017 and a must-see film.


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