'Wind River': Film Review | Sundance 2017

A strong directorial debut.

'Hell or High Water' scribe Taylor Sheridan makes his debut behind the camera with this Wyoming-set mystery starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen.

After stirring legitimate excitement with his dynamic scripts for Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut with Wind River, which similarly delivers shrewd insights into troubling American social issues in a punchy, action-and-violence-filled package. Centered on the rape and murder of a teenage girl on an impoverished Indian reservation in Wyoming, the film yanks the viewer to attention with its keen sensitivity to the rough winter conditions and limited prospects faced by the locals. It also features one of Jeremy Renner’s best recent performances, but does fall into some traps when it ventures into Tarantino and Peckinpah territory. Decent mid-range box-office seems in store, given a good campaign and launch.

Renner scores convincingly and, at times, movingly as that increasing rarity (at least onscreen), a capable man who’s good at his job — he works for the wildlife office — is empathetically concerned about others and tries to do the right thing. But he’s also got tragedy and shortcomings in his past, most notably the loss of his teenage daughter a few years back and the subsequent breakup of his marriage. He seems to have dealt with it all as well as any man could.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Premieres)
Production company: Voltage Pictures
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, Kelsey Asbille, Teo Briones, Tantoo Cardinal, Matthew Del Negro, Hugh Dillon, Julia Jones, James Jordan, Eric Lange, Norman Lehnert, Mason Davis, Graham Greene, Martin Sensmeier
Director-screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Producers: Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk, Wayne Rogers
Executive producers: Erica Lee, Jonathan Deckter, Nicholas Chartier, Braden Aftergood, Christopher H. Warner
Director of photography: Ben Richardson
Production designer: Neil Spisak
Costume designer: Kari Perkins
Editor: Gary D. Roach
Music: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

Not rated, 111 minutes