SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Acclaimed actress Robin Wright’s directorial debut, Land, in which she also stars as Edee, is a raw but beautiful, rich story about deep sadness, isolation, and healing through nature. From the start, we are tossed into something jagged and painful. What could have happened that someone would want to upend their life completely?
Unsure of the unsurmountable grief and acute pain that Edee is experiencing, so well played by Wright, we quickly find ourselves in the breathtaking and awe-striking scenery of extreme mountain territory on the edge of Native American land, where Edee has bought a cabin with an outhouse and no running water. She purposely ditched her cell phone when her sister Emma (Kim Dickens) calls along with any form of transportation once she reaches the cabin.
The cinematography from here on in Land is continually breathtaking and sharp, capturing natural light as a separate player in the film. Wright builds and seizes one of many layers to make her character and its story so emotionally veritable. It is evident that the environment plays a major role in how the film was conceived and approached.
“…haunted by her husband and child. Suicide is Edee’s resolution.”
To this point, Edee is still surviving. She has supplies, finds a rifle, can catch fish, stays warm, and gets to know the land. It appears as if she is acclimated to the ruggedness of her surroundings. But, in this tremendous untouched beauty and vast wilderness comes a big, mighty winter. Unable to cut wood, running out of food, freezing to death, having to use the outhouse (using a rope to go), very similar to The Hateful Eight, she is haunted by her husband and child. Suicide is Edee’s resolution.
On the brink of death, a hunter, Migue (Demián Bichir), rescues Edee along with nurse Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge). As Edee makes her way back to the living, Miguel respects her request not to bring news of the outside world to her. Recognizing they have crossed paths but respecting her wishes, Miguel offers to help her survive, teach her to harvest game, chop wood, set snare traps, and understand the world in which she chooses to live. Healing begins, along with the singing Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” as a type of mantra for this newfound living off the land and existence. However, in silence, which is perhaps another unseen character within Land.
As a year or two passes and the seasons come and go, Edee homesteads. Miguel leaves his dog with her and does not return, which forces Edee to re-enter society. She is a fish out of water but does not waiver from her goal to find him. Unfortunately, a new tragedy presents itself: Miguel is dying.
Land is a film that reaches out to the darkest deepest places in someone’s depression. In these times of pandemics, the meaning of this film may hit home in abundance, and perhaps it can offer compassion and resolve to seek help and not detach to the point of no return. Wright provides a film of hope and faith with extreme, challenging, and harsh realities and presents them with flawless character and a connection to nature and its healing properties.
Land premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
"…a raw but beautiful, rich story about deep sadness, isolation, and healing..."