Wind River (2017): A Compelling Movie (REVIEW)

Today, my older brother and I saw Wind River at our local AMC theater. I went into seeing this film not knowing much about it. To be honest, I was quite shocked that my older brother had picked this somewhat obscure and unknown movie for us to watch. It was a pleasant surprise really, one that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Usually, I know what movies my older brother and I go see, due to the nature of social media and the mainstream media really hitting home the urgency for all of us to “go see the next big movie!” 

I’ll begin with my thoughts on the film itself (without spoilers). I’ll be primarily talking about the way foreshadowing was used, and also, how the character development for each character for equally distributed throughout the entirety of the film (minus the minor characters who were there for mere plot device). 

To begin, Elizabeth Olsen’s character in the film existed for 2 reasons. The first; was to act as a light comedic relief being that the nature of this film is quite serious and also a bit suspenseful at times. And the second reason, is due to the fact that she’s a “city-girl”, meaning that she was in “new territory”, so to speak. Olsen’s character really was a great bridge for city people to get a glimpse at just how different living in the Midwest, or any large vacant landscape, can be like. It was a humbling reminder that life outside of the city is more reliant on reality instead of consumerism. Resources are scarce (in terms of “back-up”, which if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean), and also the vast sense of ambiance the film portrayed both beautifully and hauntingly at times. It was a nice getaway from our modern-city living, and it helped me to really put things back into perspective.

The main character, played by Jeremy Renner, is quite the lead man for the movie. He plays such an integral part of the overall film, and it’s awesome to see that his character is such a relatable man. Usually in a lot of modern-day films, the lead man is unrealistic in the way that they are portrayed. Even in a lot of suspense movies nowadays, many of the lead actors do unimaginably tricky stunts that just seem so over-the-top ridiculous, that it can be quite hard for audience members to find common ground with such acrobatic and action-packed moves. But with Renner’s character in Wind River feels so honest and natural, that it’s hard not to relate with a lot of his struggles in life as a man trying to do his best to help his community out.

I found that this film’s chief triumph lay in the way the director portrayed these seemingly normal, everyday people in such a believable light. Often times, the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood ruins the sense of genuine authenticity, that a lot of so called “Indie Films” are often times lacking in the connection department with their audience members.

With Wind River, everything just falls so gracefully into place. The whole ensemble just feels incredibly satisfying and refreshing.

Some of the secondary characters were also portrayed wonderfully. It was hyper-realistic at points; I began to forget I was watching a film. I found myself melding my existence into the films at times, just because of how realistic and believable the whole film was. There was this ever-looming feeling of natural dread in terms of how dreary life can be at times, and also a heavy feeling of duty on the line. It was as though these characters had come to life and were actual real people; not merely just characters being acted out by actors and actresses. I also believe the movie score, even though it wasn’t memorable (minus the opening and closing songs), gave off a sort of familiar sound to the life of the movie. It felt at times distorted, but this was intentional in order to foreshadow certain events coming up. Overall though, the many issues and obstacles the main and side characters face in this film were portrayed wonderfully.

Foreshadowing was also well-done in the film. There were times where it felt as though something were going to happen, but instead, nothing did. And then, there were a couple of moments when seemingly nothing was “out-of-the-ordinary”, and all of a sudden, something major happened in the movie. It was an intentional mismatch of events which led us, the audience, on quite an interesting ride which felt more mental then thrilling. But this, in my opinion, was a good thing.

Of course, this film wasn’t without it’s downfalls.

I think the only massive gripe I had with Wind River was the choice to have a cameo of Jon Bernthal in the film (Walking Dead anyone?). It really threw me off from the film, and it actually took me out of the moment sinse all I could think about during his scene was the fact that he was the asshole guy in AMC’s The Walking Dead. But otherwise, I think the entourage of actors and actresses in Wind River were perfectly caste. Another gripe, but less prominent, was the fact that there were perhaps 2 or 3 times where the film felt like it could speed up just a little bit. I felt that the timing during certain scenes dragged on, or full of unnecessary time-fillers. There’s one moment in particular where Renner’s character is have a supposed “deep moment” with Olsen’s character, and after he spills his emotions out to her, she just kind of awkwardly asks where the bathroom is in Renner’s house. This moment was so awkward for me in fact, that I even caught myself whispering underneath my breath how “awkward” it was.

However, with that stated, the whole film felt organic and true to itself; which is really all that matters to the end. The movie didn’t feel like it was ever lying to itself, and it was presented in such a manner that made the audience members respect, and even honor, such a humble honesty and raw integrity. Overall, I give Wind River a 4 and 1/2 stars out of 5. If you’re thinking of seeing this movie, please go check it out when you feel serious. Thank you for reading this far, I’ll be back to upload another post later today. Till then ~

Forever in Your Debt,
R.S. Noel

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