‘Land’ is as Beautiful as it is Boring
If you’ve ever fallen for someone because they’re easy on the eyes, only to find out later that behind that pretty façade there’s really not as much going on as they’d like you to believe, then you have an idea what Robin Wright’s directorial debut is like.
Robin Wright stars as Edee in her feature directorial debut ‘Land,’ a Focus Features release. (Photo by Daniel Power/Focus Features. ©2021 Focus Features, LLC.)
In ‘Land,’ Wright stars as Edee, a grieving city dweller who moves to the mountains of Wyoming to start anew.
Despite having virtually no survival skills, and a home that lacks basic luxuries like electricity and running water, Edee seems content in her life of solitude.
But as it always seems to in these types of stories, nature gets the best of our heroine, and if not for the actions of a local nurse, Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge), and a hunter, Miguel (Demián Bichir), Edee would have certainly succumbed to the rugged terrain.
As Miguel nurses Edee back to health and teaches her how to live off the land, the unlikely duo strikes up a friendship that helps both heal their internal wounds.
The thing that stands out most in ‘Land’ is the beautiful imagery captured by cinematographer Bobby Bukowski. I’m not much of an outdoorsman, and movies where someone ventures out into the wild to seek answers makes me wonder why they can’t do that in a plush hotel room. But after seeing the beauty of the mountains, the woods, the water, and even the drab and depressing cabin that Edee calls home, I was (momentarily) ready to take a quest of my own.
Simply put, Bukowski’s work is far and away the star of the show.
Aside from that, ‘Land’ doesn’t have much to offer.
Robin Wright (left) stars as Edee and Demián Bichir (right) stars as Miguel in ‘Land,’ a Focus Features release. (Photo by Daniel Power/Focus Features. ©2021 Focus Features, LLC.)
It’s a very simplistic story, and Wright does fine with the scant dialogue and is believable enough as the naïve city folk that underestimates the power of Mother Nature, but there’s just not much going on. Even at just a tick under 90 minutes, it drags and feels much longer than it actually is. Yet at the same time it feels somehow rushed. The occasional inclusion of Bichir and Pledge helps move the story along, but this is Edee’s story about her internal battle with grief, and as such can’t rely heavily on ancillary characters.
I also struggled to find any sort of emotional reaction to the story. You know Edee is struggling and you’re given hints as to why throughout, but by not revealing her trauma earlier, it’s hard to empathize with her. And by the time the truth is revealed, you’ve kind of reached the point of forgetting that she was in pain to begin with. Even a run-in with a wild animal fails to elicit much of a reaction and doesn’t feel all that dangerous.
Wright is far too talented to not excel as a director, and ‘Land’ shows glimpses of that promise, but its pacing is problematic and the intentionally thin story left her little to work with.
★★1/2 of ★★★★★