by Kathryn McDonald
“Grieving woman moves somewhere new to make a fresh start and escape her somewhat haunting and tragic past.” It’s a story that will doubtless be familiar to audiences; however, in her directorial debut “Land,” director Robin Wright takes this familiar tale and turns it into a timeless masterpiece.
In addition to directing, Wright stars as Edee, a troubled woman who decides that she has had enough of people telling her that she will eventually heal from the trauma that she has experienced. So she leaves the city looking for a fresh start elsewhere, leaving behind her sister (Kim Dickens), her only living family. Buying a cabin in the middle of the Rockies, Edee ditches her cellphone, car, and most of her worldly possessions and begins her new adventure.
Shortly after settling in, she realizes that this is an undertaking far greater than she initially imagined. Who knew growing vegetables would be so hard? Winter begins to set in, and as the first snow falls, Edee’s supplies are carried off by a wild neighbor (a bear, to be precise), and she is left to starve.
On the brink of starvation, Edee is found by Miguel (Demián Bichir), who slowly nurses her back to health. Despite her brush with death, Edee still refuses to leave her mountain and makes a bargain with Miguel: She will let him teach her how to hunt and live off the land if he promises never to bring any news of the outside world. Edee recovers her strength and, over the course of many months, manages to find a rhythm to life in the Rockies.
As the bond between Edee and Miguel deepens, Miguel reveals that he too is haunted by loss, and yet in his grieving he has managed to give back to the world.
One day Miguel asks Edee to watch his dog until he returns. Edee agrees and asks when he plans on coming back. Miguel explains that he isn’t sure, but he could be gone for a very long time.
Months go by with no word from Miguel, and Edee sets out to the nearest town to find him — no small feat. Hiking for miles, she finally arrives and discovers where Miguel lives. Edee reaches his house and is greeted by Miguel lying in a hospital bed breathing with the help of an oxygen tank. This is not the Miguel that Edee remembers. Edee begins to cry and asks why Miguel never told her that he was sick and dying. He reminds her of their agreement (no news from the outside world) and then offers her a gift before she leaves. Miguel is dying, and Edee is once again confronted with loss.
Instead of retreating, she is inspired by the strength that she sees in Miguel and decides to give the world one more chance. Calling her sister with tears in her eyes, Edee reconciles with the reality she’s been running from for so long, realizing what it means to give in spite of grief.
Overall, I would say that this movie was remarkably well made, which is even more impressive given that it was filmed in 29 days ― less than a month! For audiences who prefer fast-paced action movies, this film is probably not for you. Minimal dialogue and a somewhat familiar plot (with the addition of several intriguing twists and turns, of course) may leave audiences feeling that this is somewhat stale, but the remarkable acting, enchanting soundtrack and timeless themes leave this movie at the top of my list for the year.
“Land” is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video.