Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Apesanahkwat, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, Eric Lange, Gil Birmingham, Althea Sam, Tokala Clifford, Martin Sensmeier, Tyler Laracca, Austin R. Grant, Ian Bohen, Hugh Dillon, Matthew Del Negro, James Jordan, Jon Bernthal, Blake Robbins, Norman Lenhart.
We have a romantic notion of what nature should be like, that even the harsh wilderness we often see on television or read about in books, is somehow skewed in our favour, that if placed near a huge forest in the snow, with the wind chill factor taking the temperature down well below freezing, we would find ways to get to other side and tell starry-eyed tales of endurance and bravery. Nature is not that forgiving, she is harsh, she can be evil and if you respect her she might just tolerate you.
For a film to capture the intensity of nature at its most beautiful, yet most disturbingly siren like is rare, the conditions, unless reproduced on a Hollywood stage, are too expansive, too demanding for the actors to deal with and rightly so, for nobody wants to ever put someone in danger through exposure to the cold, to the true menace of Earth; and yet for the makers of Wind River, they have done just that, they have taken the romance and given it its true face, one of desolation, loneliness and bitter survival.
On the face of it, Wind River is a good detective film, one on which the murder is harder to solve due to the conditions that the people find themselves in; dig deeper through the snow and the face of the extreme cold and storms that often ravage that part of Wyoming, and the extent of the story comes clear, that so called Western civilisation has forced the Native American out to such places of inhospitable imagination that the desolation of a group of people, of that tribal belonging has broken down almost completely. It is a depressing thought that many of the tribes of America now feel the loss of their way of life so much that as one of the characters was apt to say, that he didn’t even know how to make a death mask anymore, because there was no one to teach him.
Wind River is a film about the loss of a way of life; it is also the heartbreaking non statistic of just how many women in that part of the world are unaccounted for, that they have become the unseen missing. There is no law to show how many Native American women are no longer part of the tribe or in the vicinity. It is the cruelty of the subtext that makes the film intriguing and thoughtful and one in which the story battle valiantly with.
Forget romance, dismiss the majestic backdrop, nobody truly survives these type of conditions, nobody ever gets used to isolation and for the Native American the ways and understanding of their history and heritage are being slowly eroded away and covered up as a snowstorm would cause many to suffer snow-blindness. Wind River is a film of the majestic and the forgotten, one that is hard to pull off but manages to do so with honour.
Ian D. Hall