Film Review by Fiore
Taylor Sheridan has scored the natural hat trick in film. His first goal, SICARIO, is one of the best drug cartel films ever made. His second, HELL OR HIGH WATER, was the best film of 2016, though it was largely ignored by the Academy who sought to display diversity over talent. Now, he reveals WIND RIVER, and even though it’s only half way through the year, this film will be on my “Best of” list at year’s end. That’s three winning scripts in a row, and with WIND RIVER, he also serves as director.
What makes Sheridan’s films so amazing is dialogue. His script harkens back to Hollywood’s Golden Era, when dialogue was crisp, concise and plot-revealing. It’s like watching Bogie and Bacall in KEY LARGO, or TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT.
Those of you who enjoy the TV series LONGMIRE, will note quite a few similarities in WIND RIVER. In fact, the film plays like a feature length, R-rated version of the show. LONGMIRE is based off a series of successful novel, penned by Craig Johnson. The show was the top ratings program for the A&E Network when it was cancelled. The brass claimed they wanted a younger demographic, and LONGMIRE was pulling in an older audience. The show was picked up by Netflix, and is continuing its success there.
Rather than Sheriff Walt Longmire, Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, a man with a strict code of justice and a certain set of skills, who works for the Animal and Wildlife Department of Wyoming. When murder and rape are committed on the Wind River Indian Reservation, the FBI is called in. Agent Jane Banner, played by Elisabeth Olsen, is assigned the case, but is clearly out of her element. She is used to Las Vegas, not the harsh weather and jurisdictional conflicts of Wyoming (which for filming purposes, was actually Utah). She asks Lambert for help, and together with Reservation Police Chief Ben, played by Graham Greene, they attempt to solve the crime. Jon Bernthal shows up in a brief cameo, and enhances his reputation as the PUNISHER.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE FINAL OPTION
2. THE WOLF
3. THE PARENTS
WIND RIVER is an intense drama. The action sequences act as seasoning. Cinematographer Ben Richardson utilizes landscapes to propel the plot. The rifle butt sequence works, due to the expert camera work. The film has a somber score, penned by Warren Ellis, but it is fitting for a grim crime drama. Sheridan has an affinity for Indians, so much of the secondary conflict surrounds the clash in cultures.
Let’s take a look at the report card for WIND RIVER:
1.2 ACTING = A
CINEMATOGRAPHY = A
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = B
1.5 EDITING = A
1.6 LIGHTING = B
1.7 SCRIPT = A
1.8 SFX = A
1.9 ACTION = A
WIND RIVER is a truly exceptional film, intended, like the TV show it parallels, for adults. If you’re not caught in the Millennial Milieu, and keep TCM on as background in your house, you’ll thoroughly enjoy WIND RIVER. See this one on the big screen. It’s worth the price of admission, and then some.