Waves of emotional effectiveness in WIND RIVER
Wind River opens with a woman running barefoot through a snowy Native American reservation. The woman’s name is Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), and she shows signs of abuse as she flees in desperation. The next scene is of the same region – a hunter, fully camouflaged in the snow, is firing shots to scare off wolves from attacking his livestock. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is the local veteran game tracker and he claims to know the region well. When Natalie’s body is found by locals, frozen, and half-buried in the snow, Cory is asked to assist in the investigation. An FBI officer, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) is called in to lead the investigation. Jane asks Cory to assist her with his knowledge of the region and the use of his tracking skills. With the help of Ben (Graham Greene), the local law enforcement, and a few local officers of the law, the search for answers begins.
Cory has to balance criminal fact-finding and tracking clues with continuing to be a good father to Casey (Teo Briones), his son. Cory’s ex-wife Wilma (Julia Jones), is only minimal comfort, as they both struggle to move on after losing their 16-year-old daughter 3 years earlier. It becomes apparent, mainly in the third act, that solving Natalie’s murder is either a penance or a sense of cosmic counter-balance for Cory and Wilma’s terrible loss.
This is director Taylor Sheridan’s second feature film. He is no stranger to ‘cinematic intensity’, as his first film, Vile (2011), dealt with challenging individuals to collect brain fluid, which is extracted during extreme reactions to pain. Sheridan succeeds in capturing the raw and emotional impact shown by this film’s characters. Everyone is affected in their own individual way.
This film makes every effort to pull on the viewers heartstrings. Natalie’s parents are close with Cory and Wilma, so grief and loss are displayed with subjective and cultural differences. As Natalie’s parents are Native American, coping with their daughters death is particularly heart wrenching to see. By the film’s conclusion, even the supposed hard-as-nails FBI agent Jane can no longer hold in her emotions.
Wild River is a brilliantly deep and emotional film, particularly for any viewers with teenage children. Nearly anyone can relate to this film, as long as you can hold the value of human life in high regard. If you were moved by films like Mystic River (2003), than this film could easily cause waves in your otherwise tranquil existence. Go see this one.