Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Wind River by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (Review)

posted Jul 21, 2017, 12:44 PM by Kaya Savas

Taylor Sheridan has had a varied career as an actor, writer and a director. Sheridan floored everyone with his first feature script to the brooding thriller Sicario, which was immediately followed by Hell Or High Water. Now Sheridan returns to the directing chair for only the second time his second with Wind River. His only other directing job was for a horror film in 2011 called Vile, which he didn’t write. So with Sicario, Hell Or High Water and now Wind River we can get a truer sense of Sheridan’s style for brilliant character building and scripts that lend themselves to vivid visuals and sparse dialogue. Sheridan brings Nick Cave and Warren Ellis onboard for Wind River after working with them on Hell Or High Water, and what a perfect fit they are here. After reviewing War Machine I noted that Cave and Ellis are brilliant storytellers if the story fits their distinct style, which War Machine did not. Wind River is proof of how perfect their music can be for a film if the story and execution are a good fit for them.

In a score that touches back to the way they approached The Proposition, we get a deeply moving and emotionally heavy score filled with pain and beauty. The story of an FBI agent teaming with a local game hunter to investigate the murder of a local girl on a remote Native American Reservation establishes a canvas for a story that leads down a deep and dark hole. The music does a masterful job of painting the melancholic backdrop of the wintery and desolate Wyoming setting. The film, like Sheridan’s scripts for Sicario and Hell Or High Water, places characters within a stark and isolated setting where we seem disconnected from the real world. And like Sicario and Hell Or High Water, Wind River has a heavy amount of western genre overtones.

The music itself feels ancient, it feels tired, it feels old. We feel the weight of lifetimes coming through each note. Cave’s scratchy voice will sometimes peek through, whispering a ballad that sends chills down your spine, in a very similar approach to the score for The Proposition. As we venture deeper and deeper into the darkness there seemingly is more and more humanity injected into the score. It make everything feel so tactile and tangible and in turn emotionally riveting. The wailing voice motif that appears here and there carries us across the stark soundscape of the entire score almost acting like a checkpoint that we are getting closer to some kind of monster. Tragic beauty finds ways to peek through the simple draws across the fiddle which Cave and Ellis are known for. When we build to our big climax the score doesn't hold back, darkness and dread spill through. But we come out the other side bathed in light.

Wind River is brilliant storytelling by two masters of their craft. Cave and Ellis are absolutely perfect companions to Sheridan’s writing and directing. The composers are at home here with this dark crime mystery with a heaping amount of character study baked in. The score is rich with emotion, and it washes over like a chilling fog hugging you. Sometimes the chills you get are from the melancholic beauty of it all, sometimes the chills are from the pure darkness trying to pull you under. From moments of internal reflection to moments where it feels like score is crying from a deep emotional pain, Wind River is perfection from Cave and Ellis that show exactly how music should work with image.