The Reel Review
A woman despondent over an unfathomable tragedy moves to a ramshackle cabin in the remote mountains of Wyoming to start a new life off the grid, totally isolated from humanity. With no cell phone, no car, no running water and no electricity, she withdraws inward to see if she can heal her broken soul.
Robin Wright’s feature film directorial debut is a poignant, subtle story about profound grief. The outdoor scenery and cinematography in Land is breathtaking. But the writing in the first half of the film features a frustrating series of character choices that are so shockingly foolish that they distract from the story. It’s one thing for the main character Edee to be unprepared for her new life, but what transpires is truly off the rails ridiculous.
Fortunately, the arrival of Sarah Dawn Pledge and Demián Bichir (The Grudge, Alien: Covenant) as rescuers Alawa and Miguel turns the story into something way more plausible, as Miguel befriends Edee and shows her how to survive off the grid. While Wright’s Edee is never truly convincing as a hunting and trapping mountain woman, the emotional aspect of the story is compelling. It turns out Miguel also has some emotional trauma to unpack. Their understated scenes together are truly magical.
Where Land works best is in its subtleties. The gradual revelations of why Edee chose that particular spot to isolate, and what happened to her and Miguel’s respective loved ones, is revealed in a way that is heartbreaking without feeling emotionally manipulative. And the message, about learning to care about others to help overcome personal tragedy, is a compelling one. And that finalé – wow.
• Robin Wright originally was only going to direct Land, agreeing also to star in it only after it became clear that they weren’t going to find a lead actress during their window of opportunity to film.
• Although set in Wyoming, Land was filmed during 29 days in Alberta, Canada.
• Kim Dickens, who appears in Land as Edee’s sister, also appeared with Wright on Netflix’s House of Cards.
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