On Saturday night at the Sundance Film Festival the audiences in Park City, Utah were let in on a little secret. Taylor Sheridan is a Hollywood super power and a star on the rise.
Sheridan has had an amazing last two years with his critically acclaimed screenplays in Sicario and Hell or High Water. Both of these films brought many awards Sheridan’s way for his amazing use of realism, tone and brevity. So it was with much anticipation that we waited to see what his directorial debut, Wind River, would bring.
It is one of the most complete, beautiful, moving and thrilling films I have ever seen at Sundance. Sheridan’s incredible script makes this film erupt off the page and his direction allows his beautiful words to shine.
Jeremy Renner delivers quite possibly the greatest performance of his career playing the enigmatic Cory Lambert. Lambert is a contract killer hired by the town to hunt wildlife that disturbs the Native American reservation, Wind River, in the mountains of Wyoming.
Lambert’s world is turned upside down when he discovers the frozen body of a young girl miles away from any civilization in the mountains. Foul play is suspected and the FBI are brought in to answer questions. Elizabeth Olsen plays the young FBI agent Jane Banner who shows up and is met with much opposition. Banner employs Lambert to help her find answers on the young girl, her murder and who could be suspected.
The first 45 minutes of this film are a slow build, we learn about these two characters, we discover the town of Wind River and the cold, dark, lifeless opportunities it provides. This time of exposition and development pave the way for an incredible ride that the final hour provides.
To say any more would be going on the verge of spoiling. The performances of Renner and Olsen are outstanding and a lot of this is thanks to the deep and moving script by Sheridan. Renner is a marvel and if there is right in the film world his name will pop up come Oscar season next year. Sheridan’s script breaths so much life and light into this dark, frigid town. Renner takes the character of Cory Lambert, a man so tragic, damaged and lost, and makes him a hero for everyone watching. His moments of deep insight and knowledge thanks to the incredible monologues penned by Sheridan are more and more moving as the film goes on.
This film is a deep commentary on life, its meaning and rising above your environment, but it is one hell of an action thriller. This film has two of the most intense action sequences I have seen in a long time. The reasons the action scenes work so well is due to the build and build of Sheridan’s direction and script.
Fans of True Detective season one will absolutely love Wind River. It is a film so deep, so rich, and so enjoyable and thrilling.