Wind River – A chilling and interesting murder mystery

Posted on 1 October 2017
By Roisin Gordon
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Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut with Wind River, after having written the acclaimed screenplays for Hell or High Water and Sicario. He succeeds in giving us an interesting and at times intense mystery, fuelled by the performances from its two lead actors.

The opening scene shows a young woman running barefoot and scared through the snowy wilderness. Her frozen body is discovered the next day by local tracker and hunter, Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner, Arrival), which drags up painful memories for him as he previously lost his own daughter and is still grieving over her death.

He uses his skills as a game hunter to help investigate the murder alongside Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen, Captain America: Civil War) an FBI Agent, who seems a little out of her depth due to unfamiliar surroundings and lack of back-up during the case.

The story has more than enough to keep you invested with its murder mystery and at the core of this story is about a man coming to terms with his loss and it can be truly heartbreaking at times. The snowy wilderness setting helps to give us both a chilling and intense atmosphere, but also the isolated feeling that the characters are feeling when they are searching for answers about the murder.

The only nitpick about the film is that the pacing can feel a little slow at times, particularly when it comes to the build-up towards the reveal about the murder. Though when you get to the third act, it makes it seem worthwhile.

The cinematography is pretty decent, although at times the shaky camera does feel a little unnecessary in some scenes. There’s one moment where Jane, Corey and the local police go to interview the brother of the victim and Jane gets sprayed with mace, where we are then put in Jane’s perspective by blurring the camera and giving it shaky motion.

It’s a really fantastic way of the director making us see the scene through the eyes of the character, and helps you to really experience the moment with the character.

What really carries this film is the performances from the two leads and their on-screen chemistry. Over the course of the film, we see them form an emotional and strong bond with each other, that’s built on a level of respect and trust of each other as they are both determined to get to the truth.

Jeremy Renner gives a moving performance as Corey Lambert, you sympathise with his character having to face his painful memories all over again and come to terms with his loss. The scene where he gives a monologue about losing his daughter, really shows you the pain he’s feeling and how the investigation seems to be a way of helping him face his own grief.

Elizabeth Olsen also gives a very strong performance, as someone who seems to be out of her comfort zone and thrown into a situation that she doesn’t have much understanding or knowledge of, you see her do her best to give as much help as she can despite the lack of support from the FBI and brings a more subtle yet natural emotion to her performance.

Winter River proves to be a strong directorial debut for Taylor Sheridan, along with fantastic performances from its two lead actors.

Purple Revolver rating: 4/5- a chilling murder mystery