Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

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mfunk9786
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Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#1 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:01 pm

Wind River was one of the more insidiously badly written films I've seen in a while - it felt as if it was something that was hastily greenlit once Hell or High Water was released to such acclaim, although I'm sure it was in the works earlier than that. The hypothetical victim of this film deserves so much better than what she got - I can't help but wonder what, say, an Andrea Arnold picture about her day-to-day life and struggles leading up to this event would look like in contrast to Sheridan's film. His heart is in the right place, but just about every cliche in the book is on full display here. Every time he has the opportunity to write in a bad one-liner or well-worn bit of speechifying, he takes it. Every single time. Not a moment can go by silently without someone saying exactly what you wish they wouldn't say.
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If people are laying in a bed together before being murdered, they start talking about where they're going to pick up and move to. If a young person is being sent to prison, a character has to mention how it's got "a warm bed, three squares and free cable." Endless animal metaphors, endless weather metaphors. There are so many examples of hacky, chewed up and spit out writing in this film that I'll stop here, but I wish I'd brought a notepad with me to record them all. Or taken a drink every time one had come up - maybe Taylor Sheridan could've written my obituary, too.
And I'm starting to wonder about Elizabeth Olsen's acting ability, as she seemed miscast and not up for the task here, and of course Jeremy Renner is the photonegative of screen charisma, so that wasn't helping matters. Sheridan shows that he needs a director to reign in his material and trim the cliches, and doesn't seem to have much to say from a visual perspective - and there are moments (like a gotcha flashback to solve the mystery of exactly what happened to the film's central victim that felt exploitative and shallow) that feel like they were plucked from a much, much worse film - and that's really saying something!

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Re: The Films of 2017

#2 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:38 pm

My understanding is Wind River was sold off by the Weinsteins then resnatched after Hell or High Water's success

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zedz
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Re: The Films of 2017

#3 Post by zedz » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:21 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:Wind River was one of the more insidiously badly written films I've seen in a while - it felt as if it was something that was hastily greenlit once Hell or High Water was released to such acclaim, although I'm sure it was in the works earlier than that. The hypothetical victim of this film deserves so much better than what she got - I can't help but wonder what, say, an Andrea Arnold picture about her day-to-day life and struggles leading up to this event would look like in contrast to Sheridan's film. His heart is in the right place, but just about every cliche in the book is on full display here. Every time he has the opportunity to write in a bad one-liner or well-worn bit of speechifying, he takes it. Every single time. Not a moment can go by silently without someone saying exactly what you wish they wouldn't say.
Agreed, it's like a showcase of really bad writing that thinks it's really good writing.

I found some positive aspects, mostly in the way in which it took the hostility of the environment seriously, and how good that environment looked. That could have been the starting point of a much better film, but this one just piled on every cliche and indulged every writerly conceit it could think of.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#4 Post by All the Best People » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:11 pm

I had no issue with the performances, and actually thought Lizzie Olsen did a good job as someone very out of her element. One of my big questions was: why wasn't Renner's character Native American? I mean, I understand why a movie of this budget cast someone of Renner's Industry stature, so my question is somewhat rhetorical. But his being white is a throwaway line and doesn't play into anything in the plot.

I didn't hate the movie at all, but didn't love it. It was diverting enough. I didn't get all the hullaballoo over Hell or High Water, though, outside of the performances and sense of place.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:11 am

All the Best People wrote:Lizzie Olsen
Is this... a real thing that she goes by? First time I've heard it, but it sort of has a ring to it.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#6 Post by All the Best People » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:19 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
All the Best People wrote:Lizzie Olsen
Is this... a real thing that she goes by? First time I've heard it, but it sort of has a ring to it.
It is, yes.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#7 Post by swo17 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:21 pm

All the best people use it.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#8 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:27 pm

It's at least as real as her nose
All the Best People wrote:But his being white is a throwaway line and doesn't play into anything in the plot.
While I certainly wouldn't have made the character white either (or structured this film around his character at all, or perhaps made the film at all), his being an ally and staying in his son's life and the lives of his former in-laws is one of the pieces of the plot that seemed most important and worked the best for me. The moment between him and America's #1 Native American Actor Gil Birmingham™ at the end of the film was pretty well executed and touching, against all odds by that point.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#9 Post by Bumstead » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:47 pm

Saw it last night. Sheridan's dialogue comes off as pretentious not poetic (a character warns: "this is a place of silence and snow", I kid you not); and all of it is mixed in with clichéd character moments (the Lizzie Olsen -- haha -- and Jeremy Renner romantic tension). There's also, what appears to me at least, the writer's strategic use of a social conscience (title card says FBI stats on missing Native American women are unknown). While WIND RIVER is a murder mystery with a refreshing old-school style, it pales in comparison to, say, THE PLEDGE.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#10 Post by zedz » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:52 pm

"This is a place of silence and snow. . . or, I don't know, lots and lots of flour."

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#11 Post by domino harvey » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:20 pm

Of course I didn't like Hell or High Water and the board did, and now it's reversed. I won't claim this is great cinema or anything, but I can definitely find the pleasures in a well-made and entertaining small scale drama like this. Is much of the dialog overwritten and self-important? Yes. But there are far worse sins than being over-earnest. I thought Renner and "Lizzie" Olsen (as she will now forever be known to me, thanks guys) were both quite good, not sure I understand the complaints upthread about them. I definitely agree that the flashback was exploitative and far too prurient, though-- there were three or four natural stopping points within it that would have precluded a needless onscreen depiction of rape, but for all its posturing, this isn't really a film of restraint. Nevertheless, I thought the film was suitably somber, organically propulsive, and overall enjoyable in a "Fine once, but never need to see it again" fashion. Which is more than I expected going in based on Hell or High Water.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#12 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:32 am

I enjoyed this as much as one can while appreciating that this touches on a lot of things that are prescient in today's society, and perhaps reflective of the way things have always been as well. As a debut in the directing field, it's a promising start and as solid as films of a similar ilk helmed by those with more under their belt.

As for the flashback
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Maybe I am entertained too easily, but I thought it was great with how it threw off expectations of Jon Bernthal's character. The reveal of who's at the door once it's answered was a pretty clever trick too. It gets a little too nasty towards the end, but maybe it had to justify the villain's end as well.
Between Sicario, Hell or High Water and this it's clear Sheridan will be someone to look out for, even if we can't all agree on his work. He has a knack of understanding things about human nature that are fresh to at least the kinds of movies these are usually categorized as.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#13 Post by aox » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:56 am

flyonthewall2983 wrote:He has a knack of understanding things about human nature that are fresh to at least the kinds of movies these are usually categorized as.
I've seen the three movies you have listed.

Not attempting to disagree or be contrarian, but could you expound upon this? I'm curious as what you see in his characters/writing that are a 'fresh' perspective on human nature.

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Re: Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)

#14 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:51 pm

It's more of a gut feeling I've gotten from his work so this may not be accurate to those hard-to-describe feelings but I'll try. In a good deal of his leading characters, I see shades of anti-hero stuff in what he does, but he doesn't make his characters cut-out cliches that have been played out by now.

He's also capable of improvement. I can see that in Elizabeth Olsen's character he actually improved on what he attempted with Emily Blunt's character in Sicario and maybe didn't quite achieve fully.

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