After being joyfully surprised by HELL OR HIGH WATER, I caught another Taylor Sheridan film, WIND RIVER, a neo-Western murder mystery, and was even more impressed.
Winter in Wyoming at the Wind River Indian Reservation: While tracking mountain lions, U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent Cory Lambert (the stolid Jeremy Renner) finds the frozen body of a teenage girl who died of exposure. As she was running in the middle of nowhere barefoot and without winter clothes, and there is evidence she was raped, murder is suspected, leading to the arrival of FBI Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen, who was great in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE). Working with the local Tribal Police chief (the always great Graham Greene), they set out to solve the murder.
As with HELL OR HIGH WATER, setting is very important to WIND RIVER. The brutal winter conditions in rural Wyoming are at the fore here, affecting everything from the gir’s death to why it happened to how it’s solved, with Cory’s tracking and hunting skills being instrumental to cracking the case and delivering justice in the brutal climax. And as with Sheridan’s other films, the script is fantastic, creating likeable and realistic characters braving adversity for their cause in what can only be described as gritty neo-Westerns.
In short, I loved it and give it an A, and Taylor Sheridan is now on my must-watch list for films that deliver excellent drama while respecting the viewer’s intelligence.