Land is a meandering movie but also one that has its moments of memorable allure.
Published on May 7, 2021
Rating 3 /5
Land marks the directorial debut of Robin Wright and what a debut it is. Playing the lead as well, Wright seeks to tell a story that feels personal and meditative for being about loss, nature, and suicide. While such a film could easily slip into boring melodrama, the film holds up rather well for being an atmospheric and quiet experience, despite not quite sticking the landing (no pun intended, honest).
Wright plays Edee, a woman who is on her way to a cabin deep in the Wyoming wilderness of mountains and snow. She has little supplies, refuses to stock up on much, and is not adept at living off the land. She can hardly chop firewood and isn’t prepared to deal with maintaining a cabin when the snow begins to fall. After some time, it becomes evidently clear what Edee is trying to do: she wants to die.
Revealed through blips of her memory, we learn that Edee suffered a tragic loss in her life and doesn’t find much to live for. She is not seeking to blow her brains out or launch herself off the highest mountain though. Instead, she wants nature to take her away in whichever fate the wilderness deals her. Whether it’s a bear attack, starvation, or hypothermia, she’ll accept her death.
Edee’s death is placed on hold, however, when she is rescued by the local hunter of Miguel (Demián Bichir). Though reluctant at first, Edee soon begins to accept Miguel’s kindness and care for her well-being. This aspect is rather unique in that it mostly involves giving Edee space. Miguel only ventures up to his cabin sparingly and decides to let Edee stay for as long as she likes. The few times they do meet at the cabin, they have careful conversations where Miguel tries not to tread into any sensitive areas for the recovering woman.
Edee spends a lot of time to herself on the mountain and it’s during these times where the film finds its sublime center. Scenes of Edee taking a bath amid a sunset or peering off a cliff are not only remarkably shot but have a unique quiet nature to ponder just what is going through her mind. These are pleasing palate cleansers after the more erratic shoving away of memories Edee grapples with in the first act.
The only area where the film falters is the inevitable bittersweet conclusion when Edee and Miguel finally become more open and honest. It takes another tragedy to bring them together but it’s a tragedy that doesn’t feel as fully explored for how much the film takes notice of mortality. There’s also some questioning in how to handle such information.
Land is a meandering movie but also one that has its moments of memorable allure. It’s an impressively shot film and is free of a lot of the clutter that would normally cloud such contemplative pictures. It’s also a solid first-start for Robin Wright’s foray into directing, making me all eager for the future of her career in filmmaking.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.