7:30 PM, 6th October, 2017
Cory Lambert (Renner) is a wildlife officer in the mountain state of Wyoming, tasked with killing predators that prey on local farm animals. While out hunting mountain lions, Cory stumbles upon the body of a young Native American woman who has been raped and left for dead amidst the frozen terrain.
The FBI dispatches rookie agent Jane Banner (Olsen) to investigate. It’s immediately apparent that she’s all sorts of wrong for the case, and barely seems fit to survive in the wild, let alone conduct an investigation there. Having lost a daughter of his own under similar circumstances, Cory agrees to help Jane navigate the inhospitable winter. Before long, they uncover a slowly simmering concoction of conspiracy, crime and violence – which heats things up considerably.
With Wind River, screenwriter Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut and concludes a spiritual trilogy that began with Sicario and Hell or High Water, both of which he scripted to great critical acclaim. Sheridan appears to be carving out a niche for himself intricately exploring flawed lives on both sides of the law, and his latest film – wrapped up in a murder mystery – is no different.
Stylish, potent, and thrilling when it’s required to be, Wind River also features a great performance from the estimable Renner, a timely reminder of the two-time Oscar nominee’s acting prowess, despite his relegation in recent years to superhero sidekick roles. Though Marvel fans will certainly get a kick out of seeing Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch team up on-screen again.
9:27 PM, 6th October, 2017
Harper (Sheridan) is an aspiring criminal lawyer who hates his rat of a stepfather so much that he is willing to pay a lowlife hitman, Johnny (Cohen), to have him killed. At least, he half is.
When the hitman makes his offer, we see the screen split in two, we see Harper say both no and yes – and we then follow two separate narratives showing what would have happened next either way. (Important note: split screen is only used occasionally, as effective highlighting; we don’t have to put up with it being overused.) The kicker occurs towards the end, when the two narratives collide with one another.
Set in the seedy, sunny badlands of I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Texas (actually shot in South Africa), Detour might have been made on a bet to see how many neo-noir clichés the writer-director could stuff into the one movie. But he’s done this for a reason, to give the characters a kind of archetypal life, and to make us feel how trapped they all are in their going-nowhere-fast world.
The brooding Harper and the volatile Johnny are dancing with another at a distance – and also, at not so great a distance, with Johnny’s stripper girlfriend Cherry (Powley, whose exceptionally wide eyes must surely be hiding something). And – the genre being what it is – there’s of course a fourth character: Fate.