Wind River – Sorrowful Standards

Wind River – Sorrowful Standards

Wind River – Sorrowful Standards

Wind River wasn’t content being a wonderfully paced, gripping film. No, it wanted to make some statements – the type of statements we so cherish at Think Laugh Cry. So we shall evaluate the movie’s three major claims on a 7-point scale.

“You cannot blink. Not once. Not ever.”

This was a statement about the responsibility of parenthood. Wrapped within a poignant scene, it was cogent. But in isolation, I’m not as convinced.

Yes, there is no greater responsibility than parenthood. Yes, there is no situation that is harder to extradite oneself from than being a parent. Yes, you will probably be concerned about your child’s safety until you die.

So in those senses, the statement resonates. It also makes parenthood sound positively terrible; what sane person wants that type of stress?

And this is where the comment begins unraveling. The speaker, Cory, is holding himself to an impossible standard. A really unlucky thing happened to his daughter. That’s all.  Spending the weekend with your wife cannot be considered “blinking.” At some point you’ve got to trust your kid (and the probabilities) instead of hating yourself for every single bad thing that happens. This is especially true when that bad thing is so random and so clearly not the result of a parental negligence.

Easier said than done when your kid is dead? Totally. But still.

5 out of 7

“Wolves don’t kill the unlucky deer. They kill the weak ones…You survive or you surrender.”

Oh, how it’s nice to believe this is true. To believe that we have supreme agency and control over our lives. To believe that you are thriving because of your own hard work and determination, and not because a shooter who kills you 99 times out of 100 momentarily glitches. What, the slain didn’t want to survive as much? They surrendered? Please. This is the height of narcissism.

Still, it’s a pretty catchy phrase that’s not that terrible to believe. (Except for the whole not being true part and how it necessarily fills one with arrogance and blame for the deceased. That’s all pretty bad.)

3 out of 7

“Take the pain. Keep it. It’s the only way you can keep her with you.”

Are some losses so great (in this case, the death of Cory’s daughter) that the pain will never leave? And if that’s true, is it worth remembering her (and possibly ruining your own life)?

This is a territory where I admit that my lack of experience with the worst thing ever (a kid’s death) may make it seem unfair and a little condescending to comment on the claim (the same thing can be said about my judgment of the first statement).

Nevertheless, I’ve been tasked with a job, and I shall proceed with these misgivings. It is common to believe that negative emotions are a necessary fact of existence. So instead of getting rid of these feelings, we should “learn to live” with them. Plus, you can’t really enjoy the good things without bad things, right?

I’m not here to say this is necessarily wrong. I am here to say this is not the only way. Take a dip into Stoic philosophy, and you will find powerful, thoughtful people who effectively banished interminable negative emotions. (Note: Stoicism does NOT mean being emotionless.)

From Seneca’s Letter LXIII to Lucilius:

“Thinking of departed friends is to me something sweet and mellow. For when I had them with me it was with the feeling that I was going to lose them, and now that I have lost them I keep the feeling that I have them with me still.”

4 out of 7

“Wind River” made me THINK.

The head cop was pretty funny. But his moments were too few and not nearly powerful enough to earn the mark here.

“Wind River” did not make me LAUGH.

Wind River was a film enveloped in sadness, but not overwhelmed by it. This was good for the movie experience, but not as effective if the number one goal was to make people cry (as it seemed Manchester by the Sea was determined to do).

There was plenty here to make someone cry. I’m just not that someone.

“Wind River” did not make me CRY.


Adam Schaefer

Adam Schaefer

Adam likes banana flavoring more than bananas. His first R-rated movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 3." He is also a semi-famous somniloquist.
Adam Schaefer

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3 thoughts on “Wind River – Sorrowful Standards

  1. maybe it didn’t make you cry because you’re not a woman, and therefore can’t appreciate the tragedy in this film. and i don’t mean that to sound smartassy or flippant or superior. i was molested several times in my youth by friends of my younger brother. i allowed that situation. i carry that guilt with me every day. i carry that shame. every day. i am disgusted with myself still, and this was decades ago. it wasn’t anywhere near as horrific as what the female victim in this film experienced — not even on the same terrible planet. i wept watching her run through that snow at the beginning. i knew exactly why she was running. i cried when her father cried. i cried when she was being raped. i cried when her lover was being beaten to death by animals who called themselves men.

    my older brother died fourteen years ago. and the pain of that loss never goes away. it burdens my parents, still. i see it on their faces every day.

    i do a film challenge every fall. this was one i’d chosen for that, and i was quite impressed by it. i didn’t have a problem with the lines you’ve mentioned here.

    1. You don’t sound “smartassy” at all. I totally get that there is so much I can never understand because I lack certain life experiences. So sorry you went through that.

      And I, like you, was impressed by the film.

  2. Great review. I saw this with my dad who falls asleep at nearly every movie. Despite the meager dialogue and the slow moving scenes, he stayed awake the whole time. He also didn’t like it. This confirmed to me that the pacing was really impressive, but it didn’t necessarily entertain you – it just kept you attune to the story. I also felt the cinematography was on point, and that flashback scene was a real gut punch. But you’re right it got caught in its own sorrow and trying to make sweeping statements about life and death that don’t really hold up.

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