Release Date: Feb. 12, 2021 in theaters and March 5 on demand
Running Time: 89 minutes
“I’m feeling that it’s really difficult to be around people because they just want me to be better,” Robin Wright’s Edee announces at the beginning of Land. This intimate drama, representing Wright’s assured directorial debut, explores the different way that people grieve. As Land makes clear through Edee’s literal and emotional journey, there is no right way or wrong way to grieve the death of a love one, that closure often requires significant internal reflection and the shedding of guilt. Edee’s suffering from an imaginable loss, one which drives her to leave her comfy suburban life to live a lonely and difficult existence in the isolation of the Wyoming wild (with Alberta, Canada, doubling for the Cowboy State). Written with empathic concern by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam, Land is as much a strenuous story about an unequipped and unprepared person learning the hard way to become one with Mother Nature as it is a dissection of the healing process. By intentionally cutting herself off from the outside world, Edee faces hunger and the freezing cold until she obtain the tools and the knowledge she needs to survive in such a harsh and unforgiving world. At times, Land forces us to question Edee’s motives for fleeing civilization. Does she want to get better without the help of others and on her own terms? Or is her unrelenting grieve pushing her to slowly kill herself? Wright presents us with a bereaved woman unsure of how overcome the sense of loss and hopeless that has left her incapable of moving forward with her life. Wright does not try to fool us into thinking Edee knows what she is doing or how moving to the middle of nowhere will result into the cathartic experience she so needs. More important, Wright requires Edee to earn our empathy. Edee often is as cold and as impenetrable as the environment she lives off. This is less a function of who she is than what her anguish has turned her into. But Land is keenly aware that grieve is often a transformational experience, so it is more interested in who Edee can become rather than who she once was. And she receives help in the form of a hunter played with patient affinity by Demián Bichir (who, sadly, lost his real-life partner Stefanie Sherk in 2019). Wright directs Landin a stark and honest manner that reflects the hardships Edee endures both physically and emotionally. She also employs the picture-postcard Wyoming terrain both to challenge and to restore Edee, presenting her new home in a natural light that works in hand with Ben Sollee and Time for Three’s somber score. “There are better ways to die,” Bichir’s Miguel half-jokes with Edee about the way she has chosen to address her state of mind. Land never lets up in its depiction of the crippling effects of grief. But it also offers a glimmer of hope without denying that the pain associated with loss can ever be truly distinguished.
Aired: Feb. 11, 2021