Arts & Leisure

“Wind River” a mystery with a difference

ELIZABETH OLSEN and Jeremy Renner star in “Wind River.”

By Jim Tortolano

Most murder mysteries in movies seem to occur in urban areas with lots of chases down grungy alleys and under the glare of artificial light, often with a pretty artificial plotline.

“Wind River” is set in the snow-laden mountain country of Wyoming, and takes a unique path, giving us interesting looks into the seemingly disparate words of wilderness tracking, crime forensics, family dynamics and the status of Native Americans.

A woman, Natalie Hanson (played by Kelsey Asbille) is found raped and dead in the frozen wastes of an Indian reservation, and local authorities call the FBI., since such a reserve is considered a federal jurisdiction. Help arrives in the form of Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who is a Floridian a bit out of her element.

She enlists the aid of Fish and Wildlife game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a laconic and troubled man haunted by the loss of his teenage daughter. They join forces along with tribal police chief Ben (Graham Greene, himself a Native American).

The story winds slowly but surely, with the weather a metaphor for the loneliness and unforgiving effects of nature and life. As the hunt for the woman’s killer (or killers) advances, a relationship between Jane and Corey slowly and subtly builds.

Don’t want to give too much away here, but writer-director Taylor Sheridan has created a quiet gem here, with nary a mystery cliché in sight. If some of the characters herein act senselessly, it fits within the context of the life they lead.

“Wind River” is a soft-spoken tale of isolation, desperation and the human ability to survive. No superheroes here, just people at their best and worst.

“Wind River” is rated R for violence, alcohol and drug abuse.

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