Wind River, B
Rated R, 111 minutes
The compelling, haunting new drama "Wind River" from director and writer Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the acclaimed dramas "Sicario" and "Hell or High Water" is a powerful portrait at both the beauty and the isolation of an Indian reservation. There are some uneven, predictable patches in the slow-moving, Western-set drama, but it's still a satisfying tale peppered with some sad moments you won't easily forget.
US Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) discovers a body in the rugged wilderness of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The FBI sends in rookie agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), but she is unprepared for the difficulties created by the oppressive weather and isolation of the Wyoming winter. When she employs Cory as a tracker, the two venture deep into a world ravaged by violence and the elements.
"Wind River" is writer Sheridan's feature debut, and it's an auspicious, though not perfect one. The narrative, set in Wyoming, is a familiar one for the Oscar-nominated Sheridan, also an actor known for "Sons of Anarchy," who's becoming known for creating dusty crime dramas set in the Western U.S. Overall, it's a solid effort, though not as effective as his previous efforts, mainly due to a couple of issues with the narrative, and one with casting.
Sheridan's pensive tale captures the loneliness and isolation of the Indian River, along with the frustrations a murderous crime brings to the area. Unfortunately, he doesn't connect many elements of the backstory of Renner's character, and the sluggish second act doesn't do much to advance the story. Olsen is a generally a fine actress, but she's miscast here, too young for the part of the FBI agent, and she feels out of her element.
Still, there's much to like in "Wind River," with the moody, folksy score from musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and the handsome photography from Ben Richardson, responsible for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," brings to life the Western landscape it portrays, with lots of snow and occasional wild animals to contend with. The last act is its most satisfying, even if Sheridan ties things up a little too quickly.
The satisfying, well-acted and moody "Wind River" is a solid, enjoyable crime yarn and a nice, late-summer entry to add to your list.