The Daily Cup 43 Wind River

Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.

One of my favorite things about films is when they introduce me into a world are make me aware of an event I wasn’t previously aware of. The world is a big place with many different people with many different world views and experiences. We can’t experience everything, but maybe just maybe we can learn about other people and their experiences, and gain a little empathy for the paths others have traveled. Films or another other kind of art should be the only way you experience other world views and events, but they can be a great gateway. Many an interesting film has led me down a path of research and given me a desire to learn more about the topic and people portrayed in the film.

Wind River (2017) is a crime thriller about a rape and murder of a native woman Natalie Hanson on the Wind river reservation in Wyoming. Her body is discovered by a Fish & Wildlife Service tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) in the wilderness. FBI agent Jame Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is assigned to the case. Together they work to find the man who committed the heinous act.

Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, the film is unflinching look at the marginalized lives of Native Americans and specifically Native women. The land itself becomes a major character in the film. The cold is a key factor in the death of the Natalie, and plays a key obstacle and ally to the protagonists in the film. Visually the landscape is used masterfully in some truly beautiful cinematography, you feel cold just watching this movie.

 There are many shots just as awesome as this.

There are many shots just as awesome as this.

The performances in this film really stand out. Jeremy Renner plays a stoic father with past mistake that haunts him. It drives his actions and decisions, and provides the resolve he needs to get the job done. He is unflappable, but also realteable and vulnerable at times. Elizabeth Olsen plays a fish out of water, a white woman from the city completely out of her element in rural Wyoming. The most emotional performance and one that really hit me as a father was from Gil Birmingham as Natalie’s father. He portrays the grief of losing a child in such a subtle yet powerful way, you couldn’t help but feel his grief whenever he was on screen.

I think this film is potentially problematic as it is a film about life on an Indian reservation written and directed by a white man, whose protagonists are also white. While people of different races are perfectly capable of telling stories about other races, this story seems very personal and culturally specific. I would love to see a similar story told by a native filmmaker. Credit to Taylor Sheridan and my research did turn up that he was adamant about casting native actors in the roles of the native characters on screen. It’s the least he could do, but in today’s Hollywood that’s very notable.

This film had me researching more about life on Indian Reservations in the United States, and the comlex and terrible justice system our government has afforded them. The result means that the disappearance and murder of native women isn’t even a statistic kept by law enforcement agencies. They are a group so marginalized that it isn’t even worth counting their dead and missing. The is a violent, depressing film that is expertly crafted and incredibly enlightening to another world I was ignorant of.

Tally

Movies new to me watched: 34/292

Other movies: 9/73

Total movies watched: 42/365

Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at kyle@hotchocolatemedia.net or on Twitter at @kbdekker.