‘Wind River’ gets award season ‘flowing’

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 at 4:50 PM
‘Wind River’ gets award season ‘flowing’ by Gabriel Hypes

Before going into this film, it is worth pointing out what to expect. The first time director and writer of “Wind River” Taylor Sheridan, is known for his screenplays of “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water.” Thinking  the back to back hits of those two films, it’s about telling a compelling story with great characters, but mostly unbelievable tension. The border control scene of “Sicario” and the final shootout of “Hell or High Water” were some of the most heart pulling, edge of your seat scenes in recent history. So when it comes to Sheridan’s film debut, I was expecting big things. Those expectations were met and exceeded, making Sheridan a must see filmmaker, no matter what he does.

“Wind River” tells the story of a Wyoming wildlife tracker in a Native American Reserve, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), stumbling across a dead body while on the job. After informing the police, FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is on the scene, but with her inexperience of the area, she calls on Lambert for his help on the case. Battling his own personal demons, Lambert gives his all finding the murderer.

Talking about the tension of being on the chase, “Wind River” just places you in the middle of a scene. Sheridan has a way of writing, and now directing, that makes you feel like you are the one in danger and when push comes to shove, in the line of fire. There are a few moments in the film that stand out from the rest and without going into spoilers, I feel like they are worth mentioning.

In the middle of the film, a character is storming into a house after being partially blinded. The character is going around corners, gun drawn, not able to see, and mostly relying on their other senses to survive. As a viewer, you are in their POV, just trying to do your job, trying to find a trail to follow to bring justice for the dead.

Another scene to mention is one where everything was normal until it wasn’t. A character feels as if the people he is talking to calmly are turning on him. No one else believes him but, he was terrified, clutching to his gun and refusing to put it down. These two scenes will stick with me and are enough alone to be worthy of a screenplay nomination from the Academy.

Nothing needs to be said about the performances other than that they’re amazing. From the leads of Renner and Olsen, to the victim’s father Martin Hanson (Gil Birmingham), as I said before, the only thing I can say is amazing.

If played safe, “Wind River” could have been bland, and unoriginal in the worst of ways. Throughout, there were times where I was sure what was going to happen next and if I was right, it would have made for a bad movie and especially cheesy movie.

But it didn’t. Finding out what happened to the victim, the chase, the emotion and everything in between was on point. “Wind River” tells a story that even if justice is found, there are no winners. The events of this film are very real for Native Americans living on a reservation and something that many of them have just had to deal with.

Gabriel Hypes is the Arts Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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