My older brother and I recently saw Wind River. I went into seeing this film not knowing much about it. But, to be honest, I was pretty shocked that my older brother had picked this somewhat obscure and unknown movie for us to watch. However, it was a pleasant surprise.
This movie review will be spoiler-free for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the film itself. I’ll primarily talk about character development, feeling of the movie, how foreshadowing was used in the movie, and my final comments on the overall film itself.
To begin, Elizabeth Olsen’s character in the film existed for two reasons. The first; was to act as a light comedic relief because the nature of this film is quite severe and a bit suspenseful at times. And the second reason is that she’s a “city-girl,” meaning that she was in “new territory,” so to speak.
Olsen’s character really was an excellent bridge for city people to get a glimpse at just how different living in the Midwest, or any sizeable landscape, can be like.
It was a humbling reminder that life outside the city is more reliant on reality than consumerism. Resources are scarce (in terms of “back-up,” which if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I mean). Also, the vast sense of ambiance the movie portrayed was both beautiful and haunting at times. It was a nice getaway from our modern city living, and it helped me 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 fantastic to see that his character is such a relatable man.
Usually, in many modern-day films, the lead man is unrealistic in the way they are portrayed. Even in many suspense or action-packed movies nowadays, many lead actors do unimaginably tricky stunts that just seem so over-the-top ridiculous. Therefore, it’s often pretty difficult for audience members to find common ground with overly heroic, action-packed scenes. Of course, there’s a time and place for everything, and we as viewers love to see the hero win the day. But Wind River really delivers on human characters, with all the complexities that come along with it.
With that said, Renner’s character in Wind River feels so honest and natural. It’s hard not to relate to many 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 how the director portrayed these seemingly ordinary, everyday people in such a believable light. Frequently, the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood ruins the sense of genuine authenticity. Many so-called “Indie Films” are often lacking in the connection department with their general 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 movie at times because of how realistic and believable the whole movie 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 actually 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 to foreshadow certain events coming up. Overall though, the many issues and obstacles the main and side characters face were portrayed wonderfully.
Foreshadowing was also well-done. There were times when it felt as though something would 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 significant happened in the movie. Reiterating, an intentional mismatch of events leads the audience on an exciting ride that feels more mental than thrilling. But this, in my opinion, was a good thing.
Of course, this film wasn’t without its pitfalls.
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 since all I could think about during his scene was that he was the asshole guy in AMC’s The Walking Dead. But otherwise, I believe the entourage of actors and actresses in Wind River was perfectly cast.
Another gripe, but less prominent, was that there were perhaps 2 or 3 times where the film felt like it could speed up just a little bit. I thought that the timing during certain scenes dragged on or was full of unnecessary time-fillers.
In particular, there’s one moment where Renner’s character is having a supposed “deep moment” with Olsen’s character. 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, “wow, that was awkward.”
However, with that stated, the whole film felt organic and authentic to itself, which is really all that matters to the end. The movie didn’t feel like it was ever lying to itself. On the contrary, it was presented to make viewers respect and even honor, humble honesty, and raw integrity.
Overall, I give Wind River 4 stars out of 5. If you’re thinking of seeing this movie, please go check it out when you feel serious.
Forever in Your Debt,
Leon R.M. Auguste