Westerns seem to be a calling to me lately, and when I was offered the chance to watch a western starring a woman and directed by a woman, I was all for it. The Wind is a folkloric supernatural thriller set on desolate land in the 1800s that uses its natural surroundings and the mental state of its characters to invoke demons around them.
Lizzie Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) lives with her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) on the prairie. Life becomes upended once Lizzie’s baby is stillborn and new neighbors come along. Emma and Gideon Harper (Julia Goldani Telles and Dylan McTee) are welcomed with open arms from the Macklin’s and a bond forms between them. As victims of convenience, they are the only other people within arms reach to them. As Lizzie tries to get through daily chores and hard work, her mental state is tested as Emma encroaches on her territory. Emma drifts into a downward spiral once she finds out she is pregnant and that’s when emotions are heightened.
The Wind opens with a bold and harrowing scene. Lizzie walks out of a home drenched in blood carrying a baby after performing an emergency c-section. The impromptu surgery is juxtaposed against clips of Lizzie scrubbing the same table the procedure was performed on. After this, we’re left with a lot of time to ponder until the third act. The wind outside also plays its own character, howling through the night and making itself known during the films most eyebrow-raising scenes. Director Emma Tammi perfectly illustrates the competitive nature of two women who do not particularly enjoy each others company. Amidst the tension, the backdrop is stunning. I could not get over how beautiful the landscapes were and the framing of characters against the isolated territory they inhabit is especially moving. When the film finally does get kick in, it really doubles down on it’s dark underbelly. However, there isn’t enough of the darkness to keep the story afloat.
Following the film can be very difficult due to the non-linear timeline. Unfortunately, with that style, the film is missing a distinct umph to bump it to another level. The pacing of The Wind is far too slow for its own good, making that hour and a half runtime feel like a chore. With a shortened runtime, you could still keep the bulk of the story and take out the unneeded fluff that drags the picture down. Scenes that feel like aesthetic fillers are unnecessary to the actual story are strewn throughout. They’re undeniably gorgeous but they exist with little purpose.
The Wind has a primarily female crew which is wonderful, I couldn’t be more appreciative of the chances they got to bring this story to life. The intricate attention to detail makes The Wind worthwhile. The performances are stellar, especially Gerard, and the scenery is drop dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, with a subpar third act, the film doesn’t entirely rise to the occasion. It sure has its moments but the full package is missing. The movie has flashes of brilliance but as a full package? It’s a disappointment.