LAND – Review by Lois Alter Mark
Last we saw Robin Wright, she was running the country as Claire Underwood, the cold, manipulative first female President of the United States, on House of Cards.
With Land, the new movie she both stars in and directs, Wright has traded in the peak of American political power for the peak of a remote mountain far removed from civilization.
In Land, Wright plays Edee, a woman whose grief is so palpable, we can feel it ourselves even though we’re not actually sure what caused it. No longer interested in remaining in the world – “Why am I here?” she asks – but having promised her sister (the always wonderful Kim Dickens, in a small but important role) she’ll keep going, she decides to leave everything behind and move to a mountaintop cabin in the middle of nowhere.
This is not the kind of cute, cozy cabin that shows up in aspirational Instagram posts or Ugg boot ads. It’s a dark, open space with no electricity, no heat, and an outhouse.
It’s so rustic that, when Edee asks the man who guides her up there, to take her rental car back down the mountain, he warns her, “It’s not a good idea to be out here without a vehicle.” But she doesn’t care. She’s already tossed her cell phone in the trash, and she is serious about being alone in her grief.
Of course, Edee isn’t prepared for what nature throws at her and by the time winter sets in, she admits to herself, “This isn’t working.”
Overcome by the brutality of the elements – she’s hungry, thirsty, freezing – she’s suicidal but remembers her promise to her sister who begged her, “Don’t hurt yourself. For me.” Barely hanging in there, she’s found by a hunter, Miguel (Demián Bichir) and his nurse sister, Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge).
While Alawa is suspicious – Why is Edee there? What is she running from? – Miguel simply accepts and cares for her, bringing her food, knowing when to leave her alone, and sharing enough of his own background to make Edee realize how much they have in common.
Miguel offers to teach her survival skills like hunting, trapping, and fishing, which she agrees to with the caveat that he brings no news of the outside world. She starts to look forward to his visits, and there are some lovely moments when they just sit together in silence and when they share a rare moment of lightness, singing Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
Land is a slow, quiet, thoughtful movie about the human condition. It’s about the profound power of human kindness and our need for connection. At one point, Edee asks Miguel why he’s helping her. “You were in my path,” he answers, matter-of-factly. Oh, if only we would all help those in our path.
Bichir is simply perfect as Edee’s flawed savior. With his crinkly eyes and gentle personality, he is someone you’ll wish you had in your own life. Wright, herself, is totally the right actor to play Edee, and as the emotional wall she’s built slowly starts to crumble, she gives much-needed hope to us all.
Focusing on grief and isolation and, ultimately, the importance of connecting with other people, Land just may be the perfect movie for the pandemic.