From: Silver Screen

‘Land’ is a fresh take on finding closure

‘Land’ is a fresh take on finding closure

“Land,” directed by and starring the acclaimed Robin Wright, superbly embodies the emotional expedition that comes with survival in the modern day. Edee (Robin Wright) abandons her life and her phone, seeking out existential meaning through isolation in the wilderness. It comes as a surprise, then, that the meaning she is seeking materializes from human connection — the exact attachment that she was running from.

From early on in the film, it is clear that Wright’s acting is a driving force. Much of the beginning of the movie consists of dialogue-free moments, showcasing Wright’s ability to embody an idea without the use of words. 

Later scenes between Edee and a local hunter (Demián Bichir) — whose name is never revealed — are nothing if not authentic, drawing on simplistic dialogue and unspoken bonds to develop the relationship. Bichir’s acting is layered and enhances the film’s dynamics, aiding in progressing the film from static tableaus to a fluid performance.

Not only does Wright carry the film with her performance, but she makes a striking impression in her directorial debut. The short (and sometimes jarring) clips keep you engaged, while maintaining suspense surrounding the film’s intent. 

With that being said, there is heavy reliance on weather and temperature to convey character development and mood. While the nature shots are stunning and captivating, they can quickly become monotonous and redundant. There is room for growth in exploring Edee’s backstory; in my opinion, many of the moments used for outdoor shots would have been better used for exposition or added flashbacks.

Even with the relative strength of the performances and sweeping cinematography, the high point of the movie does not lie in these facets. Rather, it is the script penned by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam. The idea of unadulterated compassion drives each scene in “Land,” motivating the viewer to consider how we each work to benefit one another without ulterior motives.

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And while there seems to be a clear moral, the teaching is not at all didactic. The writing is unrushed, with the progress of time reading similar to the slow progression of real life. Days are short and often uneventful. Any dialogue that is set in the present does not feel forced; many scenes bask in the glory of prolonged silence and introspection. Some of the conversation during the flashbacks has a tendency to feel cumbersome, though the scenes are brief and not substantial enough to detract from the film as a whole.

Though you may end the movie with very little knowledge about any of the characters, it is likely that you will feel connected in a way that resonates on a personal level. Edee and the hunter will sit with you as acquaintances instead of calculated personas. 

Because of the content, it could have been simple for this film to feel cliché and overworked. Yet, the strong direction and originality of the storytelling leave you feeling fulfilled and emotionally recognized.

“Land” is set to release in select theaters on Feb. 12.

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