“Wind River” is a rough-edged tale of the New West.
It may be Spring elsewhere, but it's still freezing in rural
Wyoming. On the Indian
Reservation, life is always hardscrabble.
Not many great jobs. A
scattering of small-time ranchers. Some
roughneck oil field workers. Some
under-the-radar drifters and slackers.
Not much soft cosmopolitanism.
No metro males here.
Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) officially works for the Fish and
Wildlife Department, but really, he's a game tracker.
He hunts the predators who are killing the herds.
He drives a truck where he can, a snowmobile when necessary, and
walks when he has to. There's
a fierce independence about him, and a sadness, also, which we begin to
understand when we learn that he lost his teenage daughter, which
apparently tore apart his marriage, as well.
He sees his young son sometimes, but he finds there's not much gas
left in his emotional tank.
One snowy day, while tracking a mountain lion, he happens to find a
human corpse----a young woman who's apparently been murdered.
This brings not only the local law enforcement, in the person of
the BIA sheriff, Ben (Graham Greene), but also the FBI, in the person of
Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Ben
is wise, practical, and knowledgeable, but tending toward the world-weary,
from facing the seemingly insoluble social problems on the reservation
where he lives and works. Jane
is a green tinhorn who at least has sense enough to know when to accept
help. She and Cory make an
unlikely pairing, and they usually want to go in opposite directions.
She wants to go around asking questions of everybody, he wants to
go out alone and investigate the tracks in the snow, and learn from them.
The most poignant scenes are Cory's encounters with Martin (Gil
Birmingham), the father of the deceased girl.
Martin does not want to grieve in front of strangers, and won't
show his emotion to any FBI agent. But
Cory stands with him on his porch, and tells him about the time that he
went to a grief group session, once, and one thing the counselor said
stood out in his mind: “I've
got good news and bad news. The
bad news is you'll never get over it.
The good news is that if you allow yourself to feel the grief, then
you'll retain the rest of your feelings about her, including the good
memories. But if you put
yourself in a place where you don't feel the pain, you'll lose all your
feelings for her, including the good ones.”
Well, it's better than most platitudes.
Martin's got a son left, as well, who's already gotten himself in
trouble, but Cory says, “Go easy on him.
He needs you, and he's all you got left.”
And then he sits with his friend in silence for a while, just
lending his empathetic presence.
We could all use a friend like Cory.
Jane finds this out, too, as well as discovering that Cory's
loyalties don't wane when the bullets start flying, either.
It's a hard-edged story with very few soft and warm spots, but