Wind River (2017): As If You Need More Of A Reason To Love Taylor Sheridan’s Work, Here Comes ‘Wind River’ (Review)

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Wind River tells the story of Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker, and FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) as they attempt to figure out who raped and murdered a young Native woman (Kelsey Chow) on a Native reservation. The film also stars Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene and is directed by Taylor Sheridan (writer for Sicario, Hell Or High Water).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

My initial thought immediately after watching this movie: we really need more heavy movies like Wind RiverTaylor Sheridan knocks another brilliant script out of the park with his second foray into directing as it is one of the most engaging films I have seen this year – the dialogue and characters being worthy of the most praise. You are immediately placed into the world of the Wind River reservation from the very getgo, the brutal cold is depicted effectively on screen with the vast snowy landscape being the cherry on top of this tragic mystery.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is intriguing enough, however it’s the connection you feel with the characters that truly makes it as enjoyable as it is… Even though the subject matter and circumstances surrounding it is incredibly heavy.

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‘Back To The Future’ | Universal Pictures

The various relationships Cory (Jeremy Renner) has with the people living on this reservation is showcased efficiently enough to where the audience deduces certain aspects of their relationship without needing the film to hold your hand. I thoroughly enjoyed the actual character of Cory and what he meant to certain individuals and Renner gives a serviceable performance as the tracker-who-sees (and knows)-all. His character does seem to have a cowboy hat in virtually every single subject on Earth –  from his vast knowledge of virtually everything Arapaho to the numerous moments where he’s spewing off inspiring discourse that applies perfectly to whatever situation arises, I understand why Cory is knowledgeable in certain areas, however he became somewhat of a deus ex machina at certain points. I do like Jeremy Renner’s performance, however of all the main players in the film, he is probably toward the bottom of my list in terms of the performances I adored.

The dynamic between he and Elizabeth Olsen‘s Jane was definitely one of my favourite aspects of Wind River; crafting these characters to work with each other is difficult because you always run the risk of potentially bogging down the relationship with overt strictly-professional-relationship tropes. Their flourishing friendship and respect for each other gradually increase as the film progresses was incredibly refreshing to see. Olsen is also unsurprisingly incredible in the film, she’s one of my favourite actresses working today and I truly look forward to seeing her in whatever independent role she excels in and the more mainstream Hollywood pictures a la the various juggernaut installments of Marvel.

We learn as much as we need to learn about Cory and are given insight into what Jane’s position is as an FBI agent (Florida… Las Vegas?) Speaking of the parenthesis, I particularly enjoyed the occasional banter between Jane and Graham Greene‘s Police Chief Ben, the latter knowing all too well how these situations usually end up, falling on deaf ears. 

How Were The Other Aspects Of Wind River

I’m not sure that this is technically a subgenre, but movies that effectively utilize a wintery landscape is one of my favourite subgenres. I can’t praise its utilization enough because with Wind River, you feel the immense cold of Wyoming since everyone is wearing the appropriate clothing to assist one’s bodily temperature when it’s 40 below. Nobody is walking around with a light sweater and shorts saying, “huh, it’s pretty nippy out” because that attitude will give you grade A frostbite in about 15 minutes.

The murder mystery aspect of the film is incredibly compelling and because of the connection you feel with many of the characters, you want to see justice be brought to an area where many are not granted a similar justice. 


If you’re interested in an intriguing murder mystery featuring a talented cast and sensational atmosphere, check out Wind River.

Wind River receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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Arrival (2016) Movie Review

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Based on the Ted Chiang short story “Story Of Your Life”, Arrival tells the story of twelve mysterious alien “Shells” landing across the Earth, with linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leading a team of elite U.S. military investigators to understand why they are here. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) and also stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

The film places emphasis on Adams’ character and how she attempts to understand these extraterrestrial beings. Adams owns the role entirely, she had chemistry with virtually everyone. Her character arc is one of my favourite aspects to the film because it is explored immensely and as each scene progresses, you want to learn more about this woman and the way her mind works. The revelations she makes throughout the film are brought on logically and although there are certain instances where the jargon used would be exclusive to those groups, the film works it in in a way that doesn’t fly past one’s realm of comprehension.

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Forest Whitaker’s character works as a somewhat surrogate for the audience by asking the pertinent questions to move the story along and his insistence to move things along in order to appease the higher ups, I thought stayed incredibly true to a person in his position. Jeremy Renner was arguably the weakest part of the film. I really felt no connection to him and his comic reliefness plus the few quips he said here and there made me roll my eyes.

The secondary characters were all serviceable but there was one moment with a couple characters I just couldn’t believe occurred… I don’t wish to get spoilery with this review so I will just say, a major event unfolds that I wish was explored a bit more following it and/or some type of consequence for such a decision made.

The unfolding of events is one of my favourite aspects of the film. Every bit of progress made to communicate with these beings had me on the edge of my seat because I wanted to know what the hell they were trying to say! The final act does feature some quick conclusive moments because it felt like they needed to wrap everything up in a more rushed way than the first two acts were, however I was ultimately intrigued to the very end and forgive that wrap up since the overall picture was immensely enjoyable.

Every moment they were in the Shell dripped of suspense, I could feel my neck tense up during certain instances. This film is best to watch in a theatre because it is an immersive experience. (My Humble Opinion Alert) You really won’t feel the same awe and wonderment of it watching it on your couch on Netflix scrolling through reddit on your phone.

How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘Arrival’?

This movie is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. Denis Villeneuve is a fucking mastermind behind the camera, as indicated by his entire filmography thus far, Prisoners being my personal favourite. If I had a dollar for every time I thought “wow… That is a gorgeous shot” or “wait, how did he film this?” I’d have like, a lot of money.

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The direction by Villeneuve is easily my favourite aspect of the film. There really are no issues with the directing as I found it essentially flawless. It is a slow-burning piece with an emphasis on its characters rather than the bombastic action-alien-killing-spree similar sci-fi films have, and with his direction & the focus on deliberately slow yet intriguing sequences shot really work to grip the audience.

The music is composed by Villeneuve regular Jóhann Jóhannsson, who also composed the aforementioned Prisoners and Sicario plus the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, and the score is incredible in Arrival. It is so atmospheric and the sounds coming off the screen is simply brilliant. Max Richter, the composer for the ridiculously spectacular HBO series The Leftovers, also has a contribution to the soundtrack with “On The Nature Of Daylight“, that man can genuinely do no wrong in my eyes.

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If you’re looking for a gorgeous-looking, slow burn of a sci-fi picture, check out Arrival.

Hungry For More Reviews? Check Out The Following:

Arrival receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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sources used: [1], [2]

What Is Your Favourite Film Directed By Denis Villeneuve?