It's a deep, contemplative experience watching "Land."
Somehow, Robin Wright - in this, her directorial debut - manages to also make "Land" a simple film, in the most complimentary of ways, and it's a movie that leaves a lasting, graceful impression.
Edee (Wright) is absolutely destroyed emotionally, and has nothing to live for. As the film progresses, we discover that she has lost her young son and her husband, and even though she was close with her sister (Kim Dickens), Edee wants no part of society anymore. She's not on some sort of spiritual journey, instead, the mere idea of having further human connection - and the fear of loss associated with having any - is enough to cripple her, so she compartmentalizes this portion of her life and decides to live off of the land in physical and emotional isolation.
She moves to a small cabin off the grid and tells the man who drops her off to take her vehicle when he leaves. She's package some canned food and seems to have limited knowledge of how to live the new life she's chosen. Has she gone there to intentionally die, all alone?
There's hardly any dialogue in the first half of the film, and we only learn what we need to about Edee and her situation. The open Wyoming mountains and sprawling countryside is a beautiful backdrop, but Edee still seems out-of-place in nature. The alluring setting also reveals its harshness when winter sets in, and the brutal and unforgiving cold leaves Edee in the brink of death.
But, miraculously, she's discovered by a pair travelling nearby whom noticed there was no longer fire coming from her cabin. A nurse, Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge) and a hunter, Miguel (Demian Bichir), save her life, fix up her cabin and restore her dignity. Above her protests, Miguel promises to return soon to teach her how to fish, hunt and gather, but knows not to overstay his welcome. However the two strike up a meaningful platonic friendship, and bond over Miguel's strange love of 80s tunes, like the Tears for Fears hit, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."
There is heart, humility and love at the center of "Land," a film whose title can be interpreted as a noun or as a verb (as in she needed to land on her own two feet). We don't see many relationships like the one between Miguel and Edee on-screen, and their chemistry is palpable. So too, are the themes of redemption, forgiveness, connection and acceptance that Wright so purposefully achieves.
A few beats of the film are a bit too on-the-nose, and it's also hard to avoid the typical clichés associated with having only one actor on-screen for long stretches (like when she says things aloud to let us, the viewers, know what she's thinking or doing, when it doesn't seem likely she'd say that if she was truly be herself).
But "Land" believes so hard that there is light to be found, and that we need one another to survive, that it seems like the perfect messaging for today's audience to take in, and let wash over us.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.
Starring: Robin Wright, Demian Bichir, Kim Dickens, Warren Christie, Brad Leland.
Directed by Robin Wright (feature-film directorial debut).
"Land" is available on Friday, February 12th, 2021.
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