What could’ve been a pretty-but-standard crime thriller suddenly became something more when I came to the realization that the setting of a Native American Reservation would add another layer of depth to the film. Alongside the compelling and gut wrenching tale of abuse and perseverance is a glimpse into the abject poverty and strife our indigenous people face daily, which made watching this film a truly heartbreaking experience. While there definitely could be arguments of “White Savior” motifs, I believe the two leads and their arcs are compelling and well laid out, even with a clunky “tell-don’t show” monologue in the movie’s second act. Jeremy Renner does well (although I believe Elizabeth Olson does better) and Taylor Sheridan shows he’s just as capable at directing as he is at writing, making Wind River a harrowing and unmissable cinematic experience.
It is also important to let viewers know that this film has a very explicit, very intense rape scene near the film’s end. If this makes you uncomfortable or is a trigger for you, it would be best to avoid this movie.