Jeremy Renner in Wind River

My Favorite Scene: Wind River (2017) “Take the Pain”

I’m not a parent. I’ve never seen a piece of myself shining in the eyes of a child. I can’t imagine what that is like, and I cannot fathom what it must be like to have it and lose it. I have lost my entire world to grief. When you go through it, there’s a pernicious lie you’re told in counseling, by people who don’t get it, by most of pop culture: it gets better. The pain goes away. It doesn’t. It does change. It changes you. The knife-sharp pangs that wrack you in the beginning become a dull roar. You learn to live around it, but the person you were before never comes back. It’s something you suspect as soon as you lose the person: I’m never going to be the same. The most honest assessment of the grieving process that I’ve ever heard comes from one grieving father to another in the most underrated film of 2017: Wind River.

Taylor Sheridan’s modern western crime thriller (it manages to tick all the requirements for at least three genres) was another spectacular script from the Sicario screenwriter and a very impressive directorial debut. As good as Gary Oldman was as Winston Churchill, I thought Jeremy Renner’s performance in this film was the best acting I saw last year. Renner is always strong, but to the detriment of his appreciation, his performances are usually understated character work. With Wind River he was able to blend his gift for nuance with a clear, deep connection to the material. The porch scene is so intensely honest that it nearly blew me out of the theater. It’s a testament to how entertaining the film is in the midst of dealing with the bleakest terrain a human soul has to cross that I was able to walk out feeling like I’d finally spent time with someone who got it. I wish I’d have gotten a counselor as good as the one Renner’s character got at that seminar in Casper.Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in Wind River

7 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Wind River (2017) “Take the Pain””

  1. It is so therapeutic to see grief represented honestly in films, books, blog posts…etc. Odd that it is something we’ll all face and yet as a culture we find it so hard to address in a brave way. I can’t imagine losing a spouse (likely I will) or a child, but losing my best friend, my brother, has shaped me and is with me 17 years later

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    1. Everyone’s grief changes them in different ways. Really the only certain thing about going through the gauntlet is that is WILL change you. People get so cagey about that and want to wrap it up in a Pollyana journey that has a happy ending and a neat closure point. I really appreciated the honesty of this film in facing it as it is. If people were more prepared for what it really is like perhaps there wouldn’t be the continual whiplash of expecting each other to be over it in the number of work days you’re alotted to neatly wrap it up.

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      1. When my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer, I do what I always do when faced with something that huge. I read. I dove into everything I could find. Each year I set up a Day of the Dead alter in my house and I write and talk about it. That helps. Our culture, I think, does not handle the subject well. You may have seen my Forever Young post. I’m with my brother more than usual this month. I’ve been inspired to write a poem…final draft in progress now. I hope you will let me know what you think of it. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that it is with you everyday in a different way than my loss is. She was part of your daily routine. BTW Studs Terkel’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken was an excellent read.

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