Draped in mystery and intrigue, Taylor Sheridan's Wind River is an engaging, albeit flawed thriller, a film thats narrative thrust and thematic assertions are eventually let down by a lackluster plot reveal, one that feels abrupt and inorganic, rushed from a narrative perspective, though one could argue it works viewed as a clever allegory for the plight of the Native Americans in North America. Taking place in the desolate, frozen landscapes of Wyoming, Wind River follows a fish-out-of-water FBI agent, Jane Banner, who is called in from out of state to investigate the grizzly murder of a young woman that occurred on a Native American reservation. Unfamiliar with the environment or the customs around this isolate setting, Jane enlists the help of a veteran game tracker in Corey Lambert, an expert of the terrain who has personal ties the murder, being not only friends with the father of the slain young woman, but also a man who himself has had to deal with the utter devastation of losing his daughter far too soon. Taylor Sheridan's Wind River uses its murder mystery narrative to exhibit the coldness, solitude, and often despair plaguing many Native Americans living on the desolate terrain of the reservations, painting a portrait of a culture of men and woman who've been forgotten by America, left on the outskirts of society where they themselves are all they got. While Wind River borders on sensationalist in its depiction of the Native American reserve, showcasing a landscape in which dead-ends breed an infestation of drugs, alcohol, and violence, the film's lead character in Corey Lambert is the driving force between the film's thematic intentions, being a film rooted in self-determination, perseverance, and individual empowerment, acknowledging that lack of control over one's environment is assured by not a finite excuse from degradation and defeatism. Having his own daughter murdered in cold blood several years ago, Corey's search for the truth about the recent murder is both personal and business, with Wind River using this character to showcase the pain and anguish of this small community, the frustrations associated with being left behind, but also the importance of personal resolve, exhibiting in Corey a man whom has already been pushed to the edge of suffering by profound loss, unwilling to give-in to darkness- one who accepts that with emotional pain comes acceptance, and ultimately emotional resolve. The finale of Wind River feels truncated and rushed, with the reveal as to what actually happened to this young woman being underwhelming from a narrative and pacing perspective, though one could argue it's the perfect symbolic representation of the Native Americans as a whole - exhibiting a woman who was violently degraded by multiple white assailants, plundered and left for dead. Taylor Sheridan's Wind River is a film which acknowledges the plight of the Native American population, whom are regulated to the shadows and forgotten by today's society, a film which cries out to this culture with empathy and acknowledgement, while simultaneously touching on the importance of individual empowerment and perseverance, reminding the viewer that an individual isn't defined or condemned by their culture or creed.
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