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Theatrical Review

Wind River
Wind River is the writing/directing debut of rising multi-hyphenate Taylor Sheridan, who until recently was known primarily as a character actor on television (notably on Veronica Mars and Sons of Anarchy), but has since made his name as an accomplished screenwriter, having penned the taut, brutal screenplays for Denis Villeneuve's Sicario (2015) and David Mackenzie's Hell or High Water (2016), the latter of which netted him an Oscar nomination. Sheridan had previously directed one film, the grisly horror entry Vile (2011), but Wind River has more in common, and is really of a piece, with the two films he has written, to the point that they can be considered a loose trilogy bound by shared themes about justice and retribution staged against environments of danger and despair (the U.S.-Mexico border in Sicario, the arid Texas Panhandle in Hell or High Water, and a frigid reservation in Wyoming in Wind River). With those three films, Sheridan has established a robust artist identity, and the strength of Wind River suggests that some of his best work may still lie ahead.

The film's title derives from the Native American reservation in central Wyoming where most of the action takes place. The central character is Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a hunter for the Department of Fish and Wildlife who gets drawn into a murder mystery when, while hunting a mountain lion that has been killing locals' cattle, he discovers the body of an 18-year-old Native American girl in the middle of the wilderness. Although the girl technically died of exposure (the description of how the fluid in her lungs literally froze and killed her is chilling), the coroner finds that she had been raped, possibly by more than one person. She is barefoot when Cory finds her and there is a gash in her head, so she was clearly running for her life when she lost it.

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