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Wind River: A movie that’s empty

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Wind River: A movie that’s empty

 

Movies can be beautiful pieces of visuals that are stitched together along with a story. You may argue (and it has been argued) that Lord of the Rings is one big piece of tourist advertisements for how awesome News Zealand is.

Wind River

 

Wind River is the movie that everyone in 2017 has been raving about. And I finally gave it a watch. Let me state up front that I loved the movie. It has some very Sicario like-moments that took me to the edge of my seat. However, I’m not really sure if I loved the movie. Ermm… it’s best that I breakdown my arguments otherwise confusion will prevail.

A Dissipating Story

Wind River sells itself as a noir-detective film. A murder has occurred deep in the snowy forests of the Wind River Reservation. An animal hunter stumbles upon the cold, dead and frozen body of the victim. And, so an investigation begins to unwrap on what happened to this victim.

However, Wind River’s initial offering is misleading. This investigation is not filled with twist and turns that pulls you deeper into an un-solvable murder. Movies like Chinatown and Gone Baby Gone are the perfect examples. They drew you into a dark web of mystery that constantly made you question – Who is the murderer? Who did it? Why did they do it?

The Wind River investigation happens in two strokes.

  1. They find the victim’s brother and he reveals that the name of the victim’s boyfriend
  2. They go to the work camp where the boyfriend is supposed to be living and… boom! The whole story comes into place.

It’s not a deep investigative story. In fact, it’s pretty damn simple.

Portrayal of a Culture

Where Wind River shines is the portrayal of a culture. It takes a deep and slow look at the decaying culture of the Native Americans. There are certain scenes that just hold your attention – these are not action-packed scenes or scenes of tension. Rather, these are scenes that just depict the lives of Native Americans and the pain they carry.

The Deepness of Snow

Throughout the film, there is a certain deepness that is carried through. I’m not sure what’s the best way to describe it, but I’ll call it the deepness of snow. There is an unforgiving environment built in the movie of how this wasteland kills people. And the wasteland is not just a physical reference to the location of the Wind River Reservation. It’s a reference to the cold wasteland that Native Americans must now call their own.

But just like snow, there is also fluff here that is built in the movie. There’s a constant reference to how Wind River kills people who are weak of spirit. To be honest, it’s all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to build up the story. It doesn’t matter if a person is weak or strong of spirit, cold temperatures tend to kill everyone.

Cory Lambert and Who Else

The movie is completely focused on Cory and no one else. The movie keeps hinting at the lives of others characters, from the FBI agent, the wife, the sheriff – but the movie only observes them from a distance. If the movie truly wished to bring the lives of the Native Americans to the forefront, it would have told us more about other characters, apart from Cory Lambert. But it didn’t. Most of the movie was from his perspective.

Again, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie. I loved it. I loved the characters. I loved the tension. There are many visual shots that just held me in awe. However, the movie throws a lot of stills and deep music to evoke deep emotions, when it doesn’t run as deep as it could. 

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