Tony's Take

LAND review

The Great Unknown

How would you handle an unspeakable tragedy?  That question is at the forefront of Robin Wright’s somber directorial debut, “Land”.  A woman named Edee (Robin Wright) has completely moved-out of her former dwelling and has purchased a mountainside cabin in the wilderness of the Rockies.  As we quickly learn she’s not expert in the outdoors, it becomes clear she relocated to escape from her past.  The struggle becomes almost too much to bear and she’s ready to end it all, until she’s fortunately found near-death by a couple of other mountain dwellers, Miguel (Demián Bichir) and Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge).  Miguel feels compelled to teach Edee how to survive, by showing her how to hunt, fish, and other basic survival skills one needs to live out there out their own.  As their bond grows, so does their connection to grief and Miguel recognizes Edee’s pain and is driven to help her realize she has a future.

It’s hard to imagine it’s taken this long for Robin Wright to helm her own project, but she makes it clear that this is only the beginning.  “Land” is very much powered the emotions of the human spirit and Wright captures this beautifully; both in-front of and behind the camera.  Her subtle, nuanced performance fully-embodies a lost, grief-stricken woman almost as if she can relate.  With minimal dialogue, the feeling of hopelessness and depression shines-through her eyes and actions.  But as much as Wright excels, so does Bichir.  His heartwarming generosity and spirit is calculated and precise, to great effect.  While Edee’s heartbreaking past is slowly fleshed-out, it packs a powerful punch.    And as we, the viewer, are left waiting for answers, we’re put firmly in Edee’s shoes.  Filled with gorgeous scenery, “Land” feels like an authentic American Wilderness film even though that’s a footnote in the primary focus. And without giving too much away, the film’s ending is sure to leave you in tears.

Coming-in at just 89 minutes, the film wastes little time getting started but it surprisingly lulls during the middle portion as it almost seems lost; which could entirely be Wright’s goal.  We feel as if we’re just surviving one day at a time just as her character is.   She has no clear path set forth.  No to give anything away, but one of the film’s reveals left me in total shock and surprise.  Not in a bad way or in poor taste but any means, but just upsetting that we’ve come to a point in today’s society where something has become so common that it’s now used as an authentic plot device.

“Land” is far from a “feel-good” film, but it is a gorgeous, moving character study on grief and how one handles it.  Anchored by Wright and Bichir’s multi-layered performances, “Land” is a heavy watch; but finishes with a rewarding finality for those who endure alongside Edee.

 3.5/5

LAND is rated PG-13 for thematic content, brief strong language, and partial nudity, in theaters FEBRUARY 12TH!