MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Wind River’ provides film fans with a welcome late-summer chill

The Weinstein Company

“Wind River” is a movie that snuck up on me.

That’s quite appropriate, even poetic, considering the film that stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen is about hunting down predators.

Without the obese marketing budget of a super-hero tent pole production, the thriller, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, stalked its way into theaters without much fanfare.

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However, this film is not to be missed if you enjoy thrillers along the lines of “Silence of the Lambs” or “Insomnia” and crime-Westerns like “Sicario” or “Hell and High Water,” which Sheridan also wrote.

Set on the snow-covered Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, the film’s focus is the investigation into the murder of a Native American girl by a talented but novice FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen).

As the lone investigator Banner seeks help from Cory Lambert (Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and sniper, who found the body while on assignment in the frigid wilds of Wyoming.

The stoic, Stetson-wearing Lambert is reluctant to participate in the investigation because he is still grieving the death of his daughter, who died under strangely similar circumstance to the current victim. Once involved, though, Lambert digs into the investigation with a determination driven by his need for vengeance.

The layered film that explores the issues of tribalism, gender relations, and addiction from the standpoint of Native Americans as well as the grief of losing loved ones too soon.

The film burns slowly at first but quickly escalates with a number of twists and turns and an ever-increasing body count before the brutal and surprising climax.

Olsen and Renner turn in strong but not showy performances, while Gil Birmingham is devastating as the murdered girls’ grieving father. Graham Greene lends dryly ironic support as the disrespected head of the reservation’s police force, who helps Olsen and Renner’s characters piece together the case.

Sheridan’s empathetic and layered approach to the story and his stark eye for symbolism behind the camera raises the level of the film beyond the routine and has me looking forward to his next effort.

(R) 1 hr. 47 min.
Grade B+

Classic Corner


If you ever wondered where the term “gaslighting” originated, Turner Classic Movies has the answer for you Saturday at 9:30 p.m. CST, with its airing of the 1944 melodramatic classic “Gaslight.”

The film, director by George Cukor, features Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance as Paula, a woman who is manipulated to the edge of madness by her husband Gregory (Charles Boyer), who is hiding a dark secret that harkens back to Paula’s tragic childhood when her aunt was murdered.

Gregory sows seeds of doubt in Paula even before their whirlwind marriage, seeking to make her question her own memory, perception, and sanity.

But, why?

You’ll have to watch the thriller that was nominated for seven Academy Awards to find out.

Joseph Cotton co-stars as Inspector Brian Cameron of Scotland Yard, who seeks to help Paula after re-opening her Aunt’s cold case. An 18-year-old Angela Lansbury makes her Oscar-nominated film debut as a suspicious maid, whom Paula fears is out to get her.

Cukor adapted the film from the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play “Gas Light.” He retains the core plot of a husband attempting to drive his wife crazy, but adds his own deft touches that make the creepy movie a noir classic.