I'm getting ready for this year's Oscar project, and I'm making a big effort to see more things before the nominations are announced so it's not so much to do at the end. So! That's why I saw Wind River last weekend!
And I'm very glad I did, because it turns out that Wind River is exactly my favorite genre: somewhat angsty yet practical detectives solving crimes in snowy places, often in an isolated community that is in some way in tension with the outside world. In this case, we had a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen), a Fish and Wildlife Service tracker (Jeremy Renner), and an experienced tribal police officer (Graham Greene, not that one) investigating the death of a young Native American woman on the Wind River reservation during a snowstorm.
I still can't look at Elizabeth Olsen without seeing her sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley, but that works in her favor here, as her character's arc is centered on the people around her underestimating her skills and dedication because of her looks, the fact that she's a young woman with little experience and no familiarity with the harsh climate, and (reasonably enough) the fact that she's an FBI agent, and outside law enforcement has historically taken little interest in what happens on reservations, both in the movie and the real world. I loved her character and she did a great job and this movie made me a fan.
Jeremy Renner inhabits his character masterfully as well, and his tracker serves as a guide to the reservation for both Olsen's character and the viewer. He's white, and the characters around him never let him forget that, but knowing the land and its inhabitants (human and animal) is literally his job, and his ex-wife and children, and therefore his in-laws and extended family, are members of the tribe, so he has a real personal connection and stake - as well as a specific connection to this case that becomes clearer as the movie progresses.
My main quibble here - without spoiling - is that I wasn't sure about the way the mystery reveal was executed; it took me out of the story more than I think was intended. But in general, I went into this movie without knowing much about it (and without liking Sheridan's Sicario) and wound up loving it, so that's always a delightful surprise. The writing was tight, the cinematography breathtaking, the score striking. This one is definitely worth seeing in theaters if you can find it.