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Film review: Wind River (2017)

HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES Mandatory Credit: Photo by CANNES FILM FESTIVAL/HANDOUT/REX/Shutterstock (8825676a) Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham Wind River - 70th Cannes Film Festival, France - 19 May 2017 An undated handout film still provided by the Cannes Film Festival organization on 20 May 2017 shows US actors Jeremy Renner (L) and Gil Birmingham (R) in a scene of 'Wind River'. The movie by Taylor Sheridan is presented in the Un Certain Regard Competition at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival running from 17 to 28 May 2017.

HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALESMandatory Credit: Photo by CANNES FILM FESTIVAL/HANDOUT/REX/Shutterstock (8825676a)
Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham
Wind River – 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – 19 May 2017
An undated handout film still provided by the Cannes Film Festival organization on 20 May 2017 shows US actors Jeremy Renner (L) and Gil Birmingham (R) in a scene of ‘Wind River’. The movie by Taylor Sheridan is presented in the Un Certain Regard Competition at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival running from 17 to 28 May 2017.By Paul Berrington

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Starring; Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Graham Greene

Rating: 4/5

From bit part actor to one of America’s premier screenwriters, it’s been a meteoric rise for Taylor Sheridan, whose award-winning scripts for Sicario and Hell or High Water have showcased a penchant for gritty character driven crime thrillers set in desolate hinterlands, and here, under his own direction, he delivers another exemplary example of the genre, as a rookie FBI agent investigates the death of a 18-year old girl on a Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

After US Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds the corpse of a young girl in the Wind River Indian Reservation he patrols, FBI special agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is called in to determine whether it can be deemed a murder. Complications surrounding the death mean Banner’s unable to call in additional federal help, and she’s forced to investigate with only the help of Tribal Police Chief Ben (Graham Greene) and Lambert, whose knowledge of the terrain and the customs of both the Indian residents and those working on the local oil rig proves invaluable. With locals as cold to Banner’s questioning as the icy Wyoming winter that surrounds them, the mystery slowly unravels to reveal an ugly truth about a world mostly unseen, and one only exposed by tenacity of her investigation.

It’s a brutal reality that many cases of missing Native American girls go unreported, and Sheridan’s film exposes an environment as harsh as the Wild West, a place few people are aware of, resource rich but overwhelmed by poverty, the laws of society reduced to something frighteningly primitive.

Both Olsen and Renner make the most of their impeccably detailed characters, giving performances that slowly reveal a moral compass that simply won’t let this despicable act pass. Connected by their strength in the face personal adversity, here are two people whose determination breaks down barriers where others might stall, possessed with a shared responsibility to do this innocent girl justice.

As in Sicario and Hell or High Water, the setting plays a big role in Wind River, the wintry landscapes important to the plot and chilling atmosphere. And while the pacing is a little slower than either of those films, this is still a suspenseful, intelligent and poignant story, from a phenomenally talented filmmaker.

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