Wind River – A Review By Marilyn Penn

Wind River is a movie where the scenery chews up the actors. Filmed in Utah, substituting for Wyoming, the snow-covered mountain ranges are so monumental that ordinary human interaction is no competition for the natural landscape. As the film begins, Jeremy Renner is called upon to track some mountain lions that are killing cattle. He plays Corey Lambert, an employee of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, whose job is to track and capture (kill) predators. As such, he is experienced at observing and interpreting the details of how predators arrive and depart the scene of their carnage We rapidly become aware that he is also suffering from double G syndrome of guilt and grief over the murder of his teenage half-breed daughter.

Wind River is an Indian reservation and we soon see the larger guilt we are meant to experience at the squalid conditions of native Americans whose sons turn to drugs out of despair. But even worse fates await their daughters – another lesson the movie will hammer home. This will be learned once Corey finds the body of Natalie, another beautiful young native American teen who lies dead in the snow. Jenner is joined by Elizabeth Olsen – this year’s Jessica Chastain – an actress who suddenly appears in too many movies at once – without being noticeably unique. She plays Jane Banner, an FBI agent who hails from Florida, important because it signifies that she hasn’t been hardened by the unforgiving climate and tough living of the west. Never mind – she’s a quicker study than you imagined of a young woman with perfect hair, and engages Corey to help her solve the puzzle of an oil rigger who has gone missing but will unsurprisingly turn out to be implicated in the same event that resulted in two other deaths on the mountain.

You will discover that white men are as predatory as lions and wolves, that native American girls are beautiful and gentle, that the racist American govt doesn’t keep track of how many of them disappear each year, presumably at the hands of drunk, malicious white men. Now that I’ve told you the plot, you can see the movie for the extreme violence of the rape and murder scene plus the bonus of the vicious shoot em up that restores proper justice and order to our woebegone west. I failed to mention that you have to listen hard to hear what Jeremy Renner is mumbling along with the low voices of ancient native American men chanting sorrowfully and inaudibly, perhaps for being included in this film.

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