Wind River Blu-ray

Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Jon Bernthal, Martin Sensmeier, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille

Review by Stephanie Cooke

[Editor’s note: this review discusses sexual assault and murder of an indigenous woman, as depicted in the film Wind River.]

I don’t get around to watching trailers much these days, so like with many movies, I went into Wind River completely blind to the story. All I knew was what was on the cover of the Blu-ray. For those of you in the same boat, Wind River is the story of a man in the wilds of Wyoming who discovers the body of a young woman. When a FBI agent is called in to assist with the case, he must work with her in order to solve the mystery and in turn, possibly get closure regarding the loss of his daughter.

Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, who works for the Wyoming Fish and Wildlife Department. It seems his job is to track down and hunt animals in the area that are causing people trouble? I don’t know what fish and wildlife typically does but this seems like anti-wildlife preservation… he’s more like an animal bounty hunter.

Renner is reunited with his Avengers co-star, Elizabeth Olsen, for Wind River. Olsen plays a reluctant hero who is brought in to help solve the case all on her own when the FBI can’t send backup to assist. It’s clear that Renner and Olsen are comfortable performing around each other but I couldn’t quite figure out the chemistry of the characters in the film — what did writer/director Taylor Sheridan want out of that relationship? It’s a bit muddled to me, especially by the end.

Within the film, Renner is playing FOR SERIOUS ACTOR who is constantly teary eyed and full of emotions that let us know he is VERY SAD AND ALSO ACTING. Wind River could’ve been alternatively titled Jeremy Renner Looking Forlorn, but I guess that didn’t have as good of a ring to it. I felt bad laughing because what Renner’s character is going through is genuinely sad but every time he tried to bring that emotion to the role, I couldn’t help but just see someone who was thinking to himself, “Tear up and look into the sky. Bite your lip… look away… look sad. You’ve got this.”

The story is overall a pretty slow burn. At 110 mins, it doesn’t really kick off until a substantial way into the film. Even after they find the body of the young girl — an essential plot point — it’s still pretty slow… and long. I feel as though Taylor Sheridan wanted to bring attention to some of the horrifying things that happen on indigenous reservations in North America, especially to the women there, but there were so many negative aspects that they focused on and the message felt a bit convoluted, especially when the actors cast in the “hero roles” are primarily white people.

The story ultimately wasn’t that satisfying to me. The mystery of the whodunit was pretty lackluster and anticlimactic. It was all over with without any real build-up to the finale and I just felt kind of meh about the whole thing. Jon Bernthal is in the film for a total of maybe 5 minutes? Maybe? I can’t say that I have any particular thoughts on his role as it was barely fleshed out at all.

I don’t know what exactly other people are praising this film for, to be quite honest. Is it because they cast actual indigenous people for a movie about indigenous people? Because they get virtually no screen time and the only supporting indigenous female character exists within the movie to be raped and murdered — which, by the way, they show on screen in a horrifically uncomfortable scene. “It shows the true nature and horror of rape!” No. I call BS. It was a completely unnecessary scene added in for shock value. Agent Banner (Olsen) helps confirm through the coroner that the girl had in fact been raped — it was completely unnecessary to then go in and show her being raped. What’s the point?

Do better, men of Hollywood. Sexual assault is not something to show on screen just because. It’s something to take seriously into consideration when making your film. Look at the statistics of women who have been assaulted and/or harassed: it’s almost every single woman you have ever met or known. You are willfully alienating an entire audience by deciding that rape is something you need to show in your film.

And for a movie that deals a lot with the murder and sexual assault of a young woman, we spend way too much time hanging around Cory Lambert as we dig into his story but never actually get the full thing.

Wind River Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Video Gallery
  • Deleted Scenes

Skip it. Wind River isn’t a bad movie but it wasn’t really great either, in my opinion. I don’t feel as though it’s worth your time to tell a story that despite being based on actual events, really felt as though it never came together. And the fact that there’s some super triggering rape content in the film (regardless that it’s just a scene) just makes it that much easier to choose something else to watch instead.

That being said, I was torn on this verdict because as mentioned, I feel as though Sheridan wanted to shed light on really awful things that happen to indigenous women. There’s some statistics (or non-statistics…) at the end of the film that made me feel as though his intent was to help people become aware of these issues. Unfortunately, he just didn’t do a great job of making it about the missing and murdered indigenous people so much as he instead made it about another boring white guy.

Stephanie Cooke
Stephanie is a Toronto based writer and editor. She's a comic book fan, avid gamer, movie watcher, lover of music, and sarcasm. She is a purveyor of too many projects and has done work for Talking Comics,, Agents of Geek, Word of the Nerd, C&G Magazine, Dork Shelf, and more. Her writing credits include "Home Sweet Huck" (Mark Millar's Millarworld Annual 2017), "Lungarella (Secret Loves of Geek Girls, 2016), "Behind Enemy Linens" (BLOCKED Anthology, 2017), "Home and Country" (Toronto Comics Anthology, 2017) and more to come. You can read more about her shenanigans over on her <a href="">personal web site</a>.

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