Robin Wright stars in and makes her directorial debut with Land, a visceral drama with breathtaking Western mountain scenery and a dose of humanity centered squarely in how the body and spirit survive.
Wright's Edee seems to have "weak white woman" written all over her when she buys a mountain property with a rustic cabin and heads out with a trailer full of provisions—she's in way over her head. Did she even bring a hat or gloves? Without spoiling the heavy Alone and Into the Wild vibes, we'll just say she obviously needs the wisdom from Miguel (Demián Bichir) and his nurse friend Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge), who enter the picture just in time.
Yet, the more generous understanding of Edee is that she's desperate to emerge from a well of grief and looks to a rudimentary live-off-the-land cure with last-ditch naivete.
Wright unfolds the story with engaging nuance, both as actor and decision-maker. The brief flashbacks are poignant—rightly rooted in Edee's present existence, not just a lazy blank slate of memory reels. Miguel teaches her to chop wood, hunt, butcher and, well, live. And he does it all with a mystic, mysterious and dead-sexy DILF peace.
The sparse script by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam serves its role well, with every word chosen to reveal a few threads of the story. The score, too, is subtle and key to the storytelling. Wright misses an opportunity, though, with Alawa's nurse character. She's intended to be elusive and disapproving, but could have used more or stronger screen time to deepen her presentation of an Indigenous woman.
We’re definitely rooting for Edee even as our curiosity about what happened to her family eats away; the conclusion is suspended, in fact, until the movie’s final minutes in a way that feels anticlimactic, as if it mattered so much until finally it didn’t. By then, she’s sort of found her way back to now.
+Mountains, humanity and survival
-Risky depiction of mental health crisis and recovery
Directed by and starring Wright
With Bichir and Pledge
VoD, PG-13, 89 mins.