Wind River

Wind River is a dark, and somewhat manic crime mystery that takes place on a Wyoming Native American reservation, which is a novel, not often seen backdrop for a film. The scenery is beautiful, but the director keeps everything in a state of panic and foreboding darkness.

The film follows an ill-equipped FBI agent that shows up to investigate the death of a Native American girl. The FBI agent is assisted by a wildlife officer and the local tribal police.

I don’t like sad, depressing movies and I’ve always wondered what draws people to them. Do they simply not have enough real strife in their lives? Not enough of their own tragedy? Just morbid, perhaps? None of these are bad reasons to watch a sad film, it’s just something I’ve been curious about. Regardless, I’ve seen enough shit in my life and have enough of my own actual problems to where I don’t feel that I need my entertainment artificially producing emotional pain for me for 90 fucking minutes.

This is definitely a sad movie. But I’m glad I watched it. It’s a film that makes you angry-sad. It makes you wonder how often the things you saw in the film are happening in reality. It makes you want to do something about it right up until you wake up the following morning and you’re in a hurry to get ready for work and by the end of the day it’s all just a passing thought. Over the next day or two, you’ll forget all about this movie and the emotions it dragged out of you. Everything goes back to normal, and you’re no longer itching to change the world or be the hero. There’s no longer a threat or a need to overcome whatever adversity you thought you had experienced. Maybe that’s the appeal of these sad, depressing movies; you get to feel all of the emotional pain of the experience, then you get to forget about it by the end of the following day, because it’s not a real your problem. It’s pretend. You get to just throw away this dead Native girl. She didn’t really exist.

One of the situations the movie is trying to explore and bring to light is the fact that there have been many missing or murdered Native American women over the years, but no investigations. It’s an odd situation as reservations are generally treated as sovereign, especially where state and local law is concerned. (that’s why in this movie, an FBI agent shows up to help with the investigation and not the local police) US law enforcement investigating a missing persons or death on reservation would be similar to investigating one in Mexico. It would be very rare and would require lots of coordination and paperwork. Well, maybe not entirely, but the fact is that jurisdictional lines are defined and reservations operate outside the law, rule, and budgets of the cities and states that they border within. It’s a very strange situation if you take a step back and really look at it. States legally aren’t obliged to help, tribes probably don’t want them there as it would set a precedence, tribes don’t have the resources to handle these problems on their own, the FBI can’t give up vast swaths of resources to start investigating every murder and missing person on every reservation because that’s not what the FBI is for. What are we supposed to do? Make a movie, I guess.

I don’t know if I’d recommend watching this movie. If you literally have no sadness in your life and you desperately need to feel a little pain, then I guess this is a good one. If you enjoy the art of it all, a good film with an interesting subject, and can stomach the pain that comes along with the story, then go for it.

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