Being a huge true crime fan, it’s no secret that murdered and missing minorities usually get little to no media coverage. Not sure what I’m referring to? Try googling “Missing white woman syndrome”, a term coined by social scientists to describe the media’s obsession with covering missing persons cases involving white, upper middle class women. This is why the film Wind River, the new crime thriller starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, initially caught my attention. This film is about the investigation into the murder of a Native American girl on the remote Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
The film is rife with symbolism. Jeremy Renner’s character, Cory Lambert, tracks, shoots and kills wolves that prey on local livestock for the local Fish and Wildlife Services. When rookie FBI agent, Jane Banner, played by Elizabeth Olsen, recruits Lambert to assist her in the case, he begins to track predators once again, only this time, the predators are preying on humans.
While many of the themes explored are both disturbing and gut-wrenching, such as the brutal reality of life on the reservation, rape, and murder, the movie is filmed beautifully. The deadly, isolating weather is a recurring motif in the film, a strange contradiction to the filmography that highlights the unique beauty of the landscape and weather. Don’t let my extended commentary on the stunning visuals fool you, though, as I was on the edge of my seat throughout the movie, which truly lives up to it’s name as a thriller, complete with multiple gunfights, twists, and excellent timing.
My favorite part in Wind River was a short but poignant conversation between Chip Hanson (played by Martin Seinsmeier) and Lambert. Hanson, the brother of the murdered woman,
laments to Lambert about the unfairness of life on the reservation, saying: “Look what it takes from us”. Sensmeier, despite having only a small role in the film, managed to make the biggest impact on me through only a few lines of dialogue. My only gripe was that the culmination of the movie seemed to be a bit abrupt. I would have preferred a bit more of a mystery before the case was solved. However, none of this detracted from my enjoyment of the general story.
The film ends with a haunting non-statistic: “While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.” Wind River manages to keep their audience thoroughly entertained while still driving home a disturbing, brutal truth: the justice served for the characters in Wind River is unfortunately not a reality for most Native American victims of violent crimes.
I would definitely recommend seeing this film in theatre. Not only is it visually stunning, but it’s a unique and enjoyable story that sheds light on the plight of Native Americans in 2017 without being preachy. Be forewarned, however, there is a brutal rape scene, but in the words of Flannery O’Connor – “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
Because of the important subject matter, the thrills, and the excellent acting, I would give Wind River a 8/10.