Set in the desolate, icy wastes of the Wind River reservation, this film is as raw, brutal and devastating as they come. Writer/director Taylor Sheridan penned both Sicario and Hell or High Water and this film also uses its location – far from the cosy American white picket fence suburbs – as an extra character; cold, forbidding and at times fatal.
Cory Lambert (Renner) is the official gamekeeper on the snowy reservation, shooting the wolves and mountain lions that ravage the Native American population’s livestock. Out on his snowmobile one day he comes across the frozen body of a local girl, someone he and his family know and thus begins an investigation into her death.
An inexperienced FBI agent, Jane Banner (Olsen) arrives to assist the local police chief (Greene) and she asks Cory to use his tracking skills to piece together what happened to the victim and to help her navigate the customs and traditions of the local community.
As the pair get closer to the truth they begin to realise they too could be in danger with Cory on the brink of making a discovery that will unmask the perpetrator of a great tragedy in his own life.
While the scenery is bleakly beautiful the acting is astonishing in its unrelenting honesty. Renner perfectly captures Cory’s quiet fortitude in the face of great emotional pain and Olsen shows Jane’s fragility under her veneer of professional competence. They are ably assisted by the wonderful Graham Greene as the deadpan quipping police chief and Gil Birmingham, the dead girl’s grieving father.
Wind River is a study in despair and pain but deep within its dark, cold landscape flickers a tiny flame of hope for future redemption. I urge you to see it.