You rarely see temperate desolation. It’s either scorching desert, or, as in Wind River‘s case, an expanse of Wyoming wilderness where, as Jeremy Renner’s wildlife ranger states, “It’s too cold to snow.”

The movie, which is available on US Netflix now, is a taut, interesting thriller that uses a familiar combination of young, naive hero out of her element and an older, experienced mentor to guide her. The difference, to me, is that Wind River spends far less time with the rookie than with the Renner’s weathered hero.

This turn could backfire – it’s harder, obviously, to convey the history that has made a person who they are than to start with a blank slate. Wind River does this with a mix of show-and-tell, with numerous physical cues in Renner’s appearance, the setup of his house (pictures of unexpected loved ones), and, most interesting, an opening conversation with his ex-wife that immediately sets Renner’s character up as one who both knows the costs of his decisions and accepts them anyway to live the life he wants.

Anyway, it’s worth a look if you want a murder mystery with more character depth than clues to solve. Also, hard to get enough of the shots of Wyoming wilderness. Having been out that way before, it’s definitely gorgeous and worth a visit. Bring your skis and snowmobile.

A couple things:

  • Continuing to love the voice recorder over my phone. Holds a lot more dialogue, and it’s easy to plug into the laptop and transcribe. If you’re serious about dictation, look at getting one of these. I use one by Sony that’s relatively cheap and superb.
  • Starting Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, which is something like an alternate, real-world version of Scooby Doo where the kids are adults. Giving me IT vibes, but with more comedy.

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