Taylor Sheridan, writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, takes on double duty of writing and directing his chilling new thriller Wind River. The month is April, but no one told the state of Wyoming. They’re still in the thick of winter, and it’s anything but a wonderland when Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a game tracker, finds the body of a local native girl face down in the snow. Mother nature murdered her, but who was she running from in subzero temperatures in the middle of the woods?
The FBI is called in to investigate, sending their seemingly most unprepared agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Aware that she’s completely out of her element, Agent Banner asks for Cory’s assistance is navigating through the snow and the red tape involved in a murder on a Native reservation. In the vein of a more serious Coen Brothers film, Wind River‘s current is strong, sending you around some surprising bends and delivering you to the mouth of an unexpectedly intense finish where no one is safe.
I really enjoyed this film. It’s beautifully shot and shines a light on reservation life and the complexities that come with the territory. If you loved Sheridan’s two previous features, this third American Frontier-set thriller should be on your watchlist. Although, I don’t expect Wind River to be a strong box-office performer (so many movies to see, so little time) it’ll be a perfect rental or streamer when that time comes.
*I do not own this image. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
**My SPOTLIGHT reviews are meant to shine a light on the films in a more limited release that are worth viewing.
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Academy Award winners Kathryn Bigelow (Director, The Hurt Locker) and Mark Boal (Writer, The Hurt Locker) bring their acute attention to the 1967 Detroit rebellion and racial turmoil that ignited the streets like a wildfire. The filmmakers focus in on the outrageous police brutalities against African-Americans and a cold-blooded murder scene at the Algiers Motel. You can’t help but see our own reflection staring back at us in the glass that frames this ugly portrait hanging in the museum that is American history.
Detroit is not a pleasure to watch. It’s a hard look at the systemic racism of 50 years ago that still exists today. Bigelow’s use of handheld cameras delivers an authentic feeling of moving through a city under siege. The filmmakers do an incredible job setting an unfortunate stage for an equally incredible ensemble of actors to come in and fill out the story with some of the most raw and a realistic performances I’ve seen. I would love to see these actors nominated for the Best Ensemble prize at next year’s SAG Awards.
Detroit is an unrelenting, harsh, visceral blow to your senses. And even though the filmmakers take some unnecessary liberties with the story, they succeed in making you as uneasy and angry as we all should be. What’s worse is that this story is not just a part of our past, but a part of our present. No comfort is provided here in this timely work of art, only an embarrassing and infuriating glimpse into the horrifying Detroit riots.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Runtime: 143 mins
Cast: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, and Anthony Mackie
Ry View: A Highly RYcommended work of art that needs to be seen.
- I do not own this image. Picture courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.