Freeland marks the highest level of cinematic artistry achieved by a movie about marijuana. It is on the same level as the films Werner Herzog made on the Amazon river. It is that good. Like those titles, we have desperate dreamers struggling deep in a vast nature they have no chance against. Furloni’s mouth-watering cinematography captures the green leafy forever of Humboldt County’s landscape on a massive scale. The shot composition is stunning. I cannot wait to see this on a large screen someday. William Ryan Fritch’s delicate ambient score is the perfect match for these visuals, creating loud silences you can get lost in.
Furloni and McLean’s script cultivates the visual advantage with long sequences without dialogue, moving the story forward with amazing visuals and powerful non-verbal performances. The filmmakers completely nail the recreation of outlaw grower life rings true. Freeland also pulls off the miracle of distilling down the complex labyrinth of California legal cannabis regulation to a core conflict that any viewer can follow. It manages to build a world and then take it apart with biting portrayals of the forces of change.
“…Fairchild gives one of the best performances by an actress onscreen ever.”
Krisha Fairchild gives one of the best performances by an actress onscreen ever. Her Devi is a living, breathing part of history, an embodiment of a counter-cultural way of life now under attack. I have met a few old hippie ladies that don’t take s**t, and Fairchild’s portrayal is right on the money. What the actress does with just looks and expressions is phenomenal. The amount of raw emotion transmitted through her performance is unbelievable. To think talent like this has been hiding for years in video game voice work is one of those remarkable stories that will be forever told about her. Fairchild has arrived and in a major way.
Where Freeland really excels is in its relatability beyond the pot grower subject matter, as the narrative taps deep into the great American nightmare. All over, people who have worked hard their whole lives are being wiped out through no fault of their own. The drama captures the fear of suddenly seeing that you are not going to make it, that the walls are closing in. The feeling of being hunted by the economic calamity is the atmosphere created here, which is so appropriate these days.
If you have ever stood between two ends that are not meeting and still have to make it work, you will recognize that feeling. Yes, Mario Furloni and Kate McLean helmed the most artistic movie ever made about pot. But their story also carries the most sorrow. A film had to be made about how greed on the state-level regulatory level destroyed the most creative marijuana ecosystem in history. Freeland is that movie.
"…the highest level of cinematic artistry achieved by a movie about marijuana."