Wind River | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Wind River

A terse crime drama set on a Native American reservation

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner
Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner

In writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s terse crime drama, a government animal-tracker — he shoots predators — teams with an out-of-her-element FBI agent to learn who killed a young Native woman on a reservation out West. Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is half insider, half outsider on the rez, while Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) didn’t even bring an overcoat — no small thing in a story where the deadly cold is practically a character in itself. The film is beautifully shot against a stark backdrop of sky, snow and pine trees, but its emotional core lies in a series of encounters between the white protagonists and the Native Americans, who include Cory’s ex-wife and young son; the victim’s family; local law enforcement; and trailer-dwelling drug dealers. That the nominal heroes are white might have undercut the subtext of the resilience of Native people. (The story was “inspired by actual events.”) But while the drama plays out satisfyingly, it’s the sense of tenuous connections between characters that sticks with you, along with the isolation and (often) lack of agency experienced by Native communities.

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