Sundance Film Review: ‘Land’ is a Moving Survival Story

Robin Wright delivers a poignant performance as a woman suffering from a tragic loss who seeks out a new life in the Wyoming wilderness in “Land,” a soul-stirring survival tale also featuring Demián Bichir.

An astounding feature directorial debut by Robin Wright, this story of bravery and resilience is a deeply moving cinematic journey that not only cements Robin Wright’s status as one of our finest actors but also announces the arrival of a serious talent behind the camera as well. A profound work that meditates on many relevant topics like love and loss, isolation and self-empowerment, “Land” is an adventure that audiences won’t soon forget, and whose themes will resonate in our current climate. Drawing comparisons to other survival stories like Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild” and Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Wild” but featuring a filmmaking voice and style all her own, Wright’s debut impresses on all fronts, and displays a command over the medium that is truly impressive for a first-timer. Boasting arresting cinematography, immersive sound design, and a perceptive screenplay that covers the storyline’s physical and spiritual journeys with equal skill, “Land” is a cathartic adventure that viewers would be wise to embark on. 

Land, movie review, Lucas Mirabella“Land” centers on Edee Holzer (Robin Wright), a woman who we’re told very little about, but that recently experienced some kind of life-altering tragedy. In search of a new life, Edee decides to shun society and seek out a solitary existence by buying a parcel of land deep in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Despite no previous experience under these extreme conditions, Edee grabs a couple months of supplies and takes off to live in isolation in the weathered cabin on the property. However, as the conditions worsen and the difficulties of such a life begin to present themselves, Edee soon realizes that she’s in over her head, but by then it’s too late. 

Just when it seems like Edee will succumb to the extreme conditions around her, she is given a second chance thanks to a local man named Miguel (Demián Bichir), who happens upon her in dire straits and brings her back to life both physically and spiritually. As Miguel teaches Edee how to live off the land and endure extreme climates, the two strangers form a touching friendship and help one another heal from similar tragedies. 

Although Robin Wright had previously directed episodes of “House of Cards,” that experience could hardly be considered preparation for helming a film like “Land,” which is set in extremely harsh conditions and is reliant on action and imagery to fill in for the lack of dialogue. Working from an emotionally astute script by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam, Wright directs herself to a commanding performance whose quiet moments of self-reflection are just as captivating as those that find her character in extreme peril. Helping elicit the beauty and tragedy in the narrative is Bobby Bukowski’s sterling cinematography, whose emphasis on the breathtaking scenery makes the setting a character in itself, and an important one in Edee’s spiritual journey. It’s unusual to come across a film from a first-time director that displays such confidence in its storytelling, but Robin Wright isn’t your usual talent, and “Land” is a film of absolute tonal authority. 

land, film review, lucas mirabellaPlaying the traumatized woman who sets off into the wilderness seeking a new life, Wright turns in a fearless lead performance that is utterly compelling from start to finish, and her touching chemistry with costar Demian Bechir lights up every scene that they share. Equally impressive is the fact that she holds the screen on her own for much of the proceedings, and does so with very little dialogue, which is a testament to her acting, direction, and the overall strength of the script. 

 “Land” is a moving journey that is intensely emotional and spiritually rewarding.  

By Lucas Mirabella

Running Time: 84 minutes 

Rated PG-13 for thematic content, brief strong language, and partial nudity.

 In Theaters February 12th

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