Critical Viewing: Wind River (2017)

This week’s focus is on critical questions – those questions that are raised during a film that keep you interested in the story, and asking yourself how things are going to work out.

For this piece, I chose to watch Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River.

Wind River is a murder mystery thriller about a tracker named Cory (Jeremy Renner) who lives and works on a Native American reservation. When he discovers the frozen, half-naked body of a young woman (Natalie), a young FBI agent, Jane Banner, (Elizabeth Olsen) is sent out to determine cause of death. Jane and Cory team up to track down the killer.

The main active question throughout the film is “who killed Natalie, and why?”.

Young and inexperienced, Jane arrives in the snow-covered wilderness of Wyoming unprepared for the climate. Cory tells her the way she is dressed, she will be dead before they reach the location of the body. This sets up another active question in the first act: “Will Jane be able to adapt to this new environment, so alien to her?”

As the story progresses, we discover that Cory’s daughter died under mysterious circumstances, so he has a close connection with Natalie’s father. This prompt a new question: “Will Cory do as Natalie’s father wishes, and make sure that whoever killed his daughter does not survive?”, as well as a question that drives Cory’s character throughout the film: “Will he see justice, or at least find peace, for the death of his own daughter?”

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