Quick review: 4/5 stars
This is a really beautiful film about grieving, depression, forgiveness, and living on your own terms. The story is excellent and the acting is great. There are a few things that are a little intense, and there is a naked breast moment, but I’d totally take a mature twelve year old if I thought they could handle it. The missing star has to do with the logistics of the story which are a little off. Facts, whatayagonna do?
Longer review: I’m an old school Princess Bride fan (We watched it on a VHS that was recorded from when it was shown on tv that grandma had. It became required watching every time we went there, with all the cousins quoting along.). As Robin’s feature film directorial debut, I was pretty much in from the beginning. Most “Man v. Nature” stories are just that, a dude taking on the wilds. This manifestation, a woman throwing herself into the wild in order to either survive her inner turmoil or perish, is a really interesting twist.
Wright both directs and plays the primary character, Edee. And she does a really stunning job. The story unfolds slowly, but I never felt bored. And there is a vulnerability to the characters born out of an extraordinary intimacy with Edee’s thoughts. Watching her remember and have both joy and pain through that remembering brings us into Edee’s world and the intensity of her grieving. The scene of her reliving her husband as her lover is both deeply intimate and heartbreaking because we know she has to come back to reality soon. And Demian Bichir’s portrayal of Miguel, his wounded yet hopeful nature, is endearing and therefore successful at totally breaking your heart at the end. (Does that count as a spoiler? If so, you’ve been warned, bring tissues.)
If I had a complaint it’s the unrealistic portrayal of life in the Wyoming wilds, and what it really takes to be self sufficient in a natural environment. There is a massive amount of skip through. The seasons are shown passing and therefore it is implied that there was training and skills acquisition going on, but the first time we even see Edee fire a gun she successfully kills a deer. And maybe I’m not city enough to get it, but I know, and so I kinda assume everyone knows, if you don’t want things getting into your cabin, you don’t leave the door open. Ever. If you don’t want the temperature in your cabin dropping, you don’t leave the door open. So when she leaves her front door open to hit the outhouse, and then has a bear rampage her food supply, I feel zero sympathy. It’s dumb. She should have known better. There are just a series of little things like that pulling me out of the story from time to time. But if I hadn’t known the difference the story would have flowed really well.
If you like deeply personal character studies, excavations of the struggle to cope with pain and grief, and stunning landscapes you will enjoy Land. And if you are just starting to be comfortable with the idea of going back to the theater, I’d use this a great excuse to grab some popcorn and support a local movie house.
Until next time, enjoy the show!!