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Film review: Wind River – Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen reunite in riveting murder mystery

A young woman’s death on a Native American reservation in Wyoming brings inexperienced FBI agent Olsen and loner Renner together to find her killer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 12:06pm

3.5/5 stars

Avengers stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner reunite for a very different crime-fighting tale in the snow-capped murder mystery Wind River. Following his screenplays for Sicario and Hell or High Water (for which he received an Oscar nomination), Taylor Sheridan moves into the director’s chair to complete his informal Frontier trilogy, again exploring the changing landscape of contemporary America.

Olsen plays Banner, an inexperienced FBI agent who is flown into Wyoming’s eponymous Indian reservation to investigate the death of a young woman. Facing little cooperation from local law enforcement, she seeks the help of Renner’s tracker Lambert, himself an outsider harbouring his own tragic history with the Native American residents.

Sicario scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan on Wind River, his Native American murder mystery

Following a narrative arc uncomfortably similar to the excellent Sicario, Wind River places its Caucasian outsider protagonists in direct opposition to the indigenous community, who would rather deal with the case on their own terms. Nevertheless, Sheridan again shows a keen understanding of his environment, and succeeds in delivering both an expose on the struggles of contemporary reservation life and a tautly executed procedural set against an epic backdrop of hostile beauty.

Olsen channels the same naive determination that propelled Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, while Renner excels as the introverted loner struggling to re-engage with society. However, it is the Native American cast, most notably Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones and Gil Bermingham, who bring authenticity to the drama and their dwindling community of displaced, misunderstood people.

Wind River opens on October 19

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