The central figure of the film is Corey Lamber (Jeremy Renner), who works as a hunter specializing in game that harms local ranchers. While hunting in the Wind River Indian Reservation, he encounters the frozen and lifeless body of a local girl, Natalie, who turns out to be his daughter’s best friend. Corey notices traces of violence and calls FBI agent Jane Benner (Elizabeth Olsen), who suspects murder. Uncovering the tangle of mystery entails revealing dark secrets from the past, and we soon realize that Corey has personal motives to find the perpetrator…
Although the plot is not too different from the classic mystery that involves discovering a criminal, Sheridan gives his script incredible humanity and very easily introduces us to Wyoming, a world ruled by snow and silence. He patiently builds his story, relying on richly written characters, slowly developing the tempo and masterfully creating tension. Personally, Wind River is much more of a drama than a mystery to me, because discovering the perpetrator was somehow in the background – I was more interested in developing the characters and adapting them to the situations, and Sheridan did not disappoint in any way.
The store is located in an Indian reserve in a rather inaccessible area, so the mystery itself is simple, for the simple reason that there are not many people there, and even fewer can be considered suspects. Finding a dead girl raises a mystery that is the basis of the film, but that basis is pushed aside, in favor of dealing with people from those areas. In addition to people investigating the murder, we also observe people who are connected to Natalie, as well as people who may or may not be connected to the murder. The process of discovering the perpetrator is also simple, and it comes down to simply following Natalina’s activities.
The author uses this film as a representation of people living in such an inhospitable landscape and shows us how such life circumstances make people who are aware that there is no happiness in life, but only two options that include survival or death. It reveals to us an isolated community and shows how such strong people cope with remorse or regret, as well as a lack of opportunities for progress or success. According to Sheridan, he found inspiration in the fact that there are no data on the disappearances of women within the reserve, unlike the entire territory of the United States. We indirectly understand that women do not have the right protection in traditional communities, and that is certainly a universal topic.
Cory Lambert’s character is an excellent study of character. As the story increasingly reveals his past, so do we as viewers become more and more emotionally connected to him. This is especially true of scenes in which his daughter is mentioned, when it is a little difficult to observe such a fierce man on the verge of tears. The author cleverly combines the present, flashbacks and stories about the past, making us all interested and constantly wanting to know more. In many films, the final third disappoints by not giving the viewer what he wants, but Wild River brings a surprisingly good epilogue that will satisfy the vast majority, including me.
Although I don’t like Jeremy Renner, I have to admit that after this film I changed my opinion about the quality of his acting. His character’s monologue about moral problems related to grief literally moved me. There are a few more scenes in which he perfectly portrayed a man whom life did not caress and for the work he really drops down. I think that this is the role of his career and that he will surely have several film awards. Elizabeth Olsen was correct in the role of an FBI agent, who found herself in a situation in which the spectator also found herself – she was literally thrown into a barren place with frowning people, and her attitudes, trainings, will and life will be called into question.