The death of a local young woman has green around the gills FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), team up with local hunter Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), in order to get to the bottom of what happened. Set in rural Wyoming at the tail end of winter, where most of the residents are native Americans who were forced from their homes, and there’s little regard for their wellbeing both in and outside of their community, Wind River is a cold (pun not intended), harsh, modern western, that is as beautiful to look at as it is unsettling. The snow covered Rockies provide a beautiful back drop to the poverty and depression the natives have been left with. If the locals have stuck around, it’s either because they are fortunate enough to be employed, or they’ve got themselves in to a situation that isn’t easy to get out of. It’s heartbreaking to see the indigenous people of this beautiful land treated as third rate citizens, and that’s just one of underlying sub plots.
When it transpires that a local girl was raped before she was found dead, Olsen and Renner follow the intriguing trail of clues, putting his remarkable tracking skills to good use, and as we’ve already seen in their Marvel films, this pair have a great chemistry, which really shines through here, and as well as his ambiguous past, it’s really easy to lose yourself in the characters’ developing relationship. Similarities could be drawn with some of the themes in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, as Olson’s character at times feels like she’s really out of her depth, coming to this harsh environment, unprepared and ultimately, putting herself at risk. Despite them having different paths, it’s difficult not to compare Jane with Al Pacino in Nolan’s film. Despite her inexperience and having a couple of close calls, Jane manges to hold her own given the hostility she is shown and the harsh environments she has to endure whilst carrying out the investigation. As the mystery unfolds, and certain revelations appear, the film gets more and more gut wrenching, culminating in an extremely tense finale.
Renner’s character is clearly in it for more than he lets on, and once he gets to exact his justice, it’s bitter sweet. Despite the moral ambiguity, you can’t help but root for him. His character is played with a quiet calm, clearly masking an underlying pain. The skills as a hunter and tracker make for some intrigiuing scenes throughout the film and it’s great watching him work out what to do next or even where to go. Every performance in this film is sensational, particularly with support from the likes of Graham Green and John Bernthal. Even the smallest turn having dramatic weight. The juxtaposed setting and theme really add to the atmosphere, with the lanscape and mountains appearing to be as much of an integral character to the film as the actors. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis collaborated on the music for the film and it works perfectly in accompanying the environment and situations. It’s a film that will stick with you for some time after credits have rolled.