Review / ‘Wind River’ (MA) *** and a half

UNTIL its end, when titles proclaim an unexpected purpose, Taylor Sheridan’s second feature as director seems to be essentially a well-crafted outdoor actioner. “Wind River” is a subtly-stated homage to the only definable group of people not separately specified in the US Census – Native American women.

Utah Fish and Wildlife Service ranger Cory (Jeremy Renner) assigned to deal with a cattle-killing lion (common name for a cougar) discovers the body of a young native American woman halfway up a snow-covered mountain range.

Several groups have an interest. The state police. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, because the body was found on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The FBI because it looks like murder in Federal jurisdiction. The local native American community. A bunch of oil exploration drillers, one of whom has been in a relationship with the victim.

Among all those groups, the only man with outdoor skills is Cory whose business is wildlife, not law enforcement. Jane (Elizabeth Olsen), the FBI agent on the case, is fresh out of basic training and, as becomes obvious, her depth.

One might quibble about several aspects of “Wind River” that invite closer examination, but they don’t greatly diminish its ability to make an impact even before those titles reveal its underlying intention. It’s intelligent, well-performed and dramatically cohesive, far better value than any fantasy drama based on a so-called comic book hero.

At Dendy


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