Wind River is the third project from writer Taylor Sheridan’s following Sicario and Hell Or High Water. This time Sheridan steps in to direct as well as writing. Wind River follows the story of Cory Lambert a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker (Jeremy Renner) who agrees to help rookie FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) find who is responsible for the death of a young girl on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.
Following on from two brilliantly written films Sheridan manages to prove that not only is he one of the best writers working today, but an extremely talented director, and one well worth taking note of. Wind River has elements of a murder mystery, but it’s really more of a thriller, with Sheridan creating some incredibly tense scenes with some masterful direction. The scenes of a raid on a house belonging to some drug addicted teens and an armed stand off, in particular are some of the tensest sequences all year. But what makes Wind River a truly brilliant experience is the way it gets to the human story at the heart of the story. Sheridan brings this out through both his writing and directing in some truly heart breaking scenes.
Jeremy Renner is exceptional in the film. This may well be one of, if not his absolute best performances. It’s not a huge showy performance; instead most of his work is under the surface, but he still coveys a huge amount with this subtler performance. The scenes he shares with Gil Birmingham’s Martin Hanson, the father of the dead girl, are amongst the best and most powerful in the film. Birmingham’s performance in these scenes is gut wrenching in the raw emotion he manages to bring. Elizabeth Olsen also gives a very good performance. Much like Sheridan’s directing she excels in those tense moments, and her chemistry with Renner in the quieter scenes makes those work.
Like Sheridan’s previous works Wind River isn’t a hugely complicated film, it tells a simple story, but is elevated by some wonderful direction and great performances. Sheridan has a brilliant ability to use a good story to get to the heart of the characters that he creates, and in Wind River he may have delivered his best yet. Sheridan is definitely someone to watch in the future, as Wind River is one of the best films of the year.