Robin Wright's Land is a worthwhile directing debut, allowing Wright to focus on her own performance and chemistry with co-star Demian Bichir to make for a tale of redemption by way of nature and kind souls.
Actor turned director Robin Wright makes her full-length feature debut with Land, a film that she co-stars in, alongside veteran actor Demian Bichir. Land is a tale of redemption and loss as a grieving woman learns to face her past with clarity and truth, in hopes of creating a bright new future.
Edee (Robin Wright) is grieving. She’s lost both her husband and her son and is struggling to face reality as she doesn’t see a purpose to live anymore. Her sister urges her to not hurt herself and to heal, which results in Edee buying a cabin off the beaten path in remote Wyoming and attempting to live on her own.
Things don’t go as expected (big shock) and she suddenly finds herself in serious trouble and in need of some real help, which is where Miguel (Demian Bichir) steps in. He takes care of her and gets her back on her feet, hoping that he can show her how to survive and live on her own before going their separate ways.
Land marks an interesting, yet fitting debut for known actress Robin Wright as she continues to stand in front of the lens, but now also steps back behind it to direct in an intimate exploration of grief and depression.
This is a redemption story and one that might feel familiar. Wright isn’t reinventing the wheel, working from a script co-written by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam. Wright is instead honing in her craft, focusing on fewer characters and diving deep into their emotional state of being as they all do battle with their own demons and learn how to move forward in a healthy and satisfying way.
The film starts off cold, not showing us how Edee lost her family, but only hitting over the head the fact that she’s sad, stubborn and unwilling to really listen to those around her. I can’t imagine the pain and struggle that Edee is going through, but I can certainly understand the comfort of isolation and being cut off from the rest of the world while you start to explore just what the future holds.
As an audience member, this makes the film somewhat of a struggle as Edee is naive and downright unlikable at moments as she pushes those trying to help her away from her and refuses to acknowledge that she’s in too deep.
But that’s where Bichir’s Miguel comes into play and injects a bit of life back into the story as he too has a past of loss and regret, but chooses to face those demons with a sense of purpose and the bravery to help others lost find their way back onto the path.
Miguel teaches Edee how to hunt and gather her own food and how to better equip her shelter with the needed supplies to last longer than a few weeks.
While he slowly integrates himself into her life, Edee starts to smile and with these smiles comes reflection of her past in a positive light, reminding her that these are good memories and that they don’t always need to be associated with pain and sadness.
It’s healthy and natural to grieve and to become depressed in life, but to let that swallow you whole means to rob yourself of any future or happiness.
And that is what Land is ultimately about. It’s a film about exploring redemption and to learn how to love and find purpose again.
Wright shoots a harsh, yet beautiful film that takes advantage of the scenery at every chance, which means lots of gorgeous sunsets and sunrises and plenty of wilderness shots that help make Land a highlight reel for Wright and her DP.
The script doesn’t stray too far away from Wright’s character and her interactions with Bichir’s character, which means that for most, this might be a test of patience as it takes its sweet time unraveling and then when it does, the film is essentially over.
I understand the concept of not revealing the “how”, but I don’t think it really applies to this film in terms of its impact. Emotions run high the last 15 or so minutes, but they could’ve ran just as high throughout the entire film, if we were given the information ahead of time.
Land clocks in at just under an hour and thirty minutes, which feels fitting for such a story. Those looking to explore a bit of nature through a character that’s slowly learning how to cope with past struggles will likely find the film to be a worthwhile viewing, while some might fault it for sticking to the thematic structure a bit too much and not really packing any sort of surprises or newfound stories worth sinking into.
Land is very much a “get what you see” type film and for some that might be just enough comfort to venture out to the cinemas, while others might wait for a rental or cable viewing — I can’t really argue with either perspective as the film fits into both of those camps perfectly.