This is an instance of a film that I knew pretty much nothing about before seeing it. I hadn’t seen any trailers and just stumbled across it playing at my local cinema. However, seeing that it was directed by Robin Wright, I was intrigued and decided to give it a look. I have to say that, I found the film to be pretty average on the whole.
The film focuses on Edee, a woman who, following a tragic event, decides to abandon city life and go to live in a cabin in the woods. After a run of bad luck sees her almost starve to death, she begins to form a connection with hunter Miguel, with Miguel teaching Edee the survival skills she needs, with the two forming a connection with each other. Now there are some good ideas at play in the film through presenting the need for both escape and human connection, but there isn’t really anything here that wasn’t done better in films like Into the Wild, Wild or, most recently Nomadland. The first act being a one-woman show detailing the difficulties Edee has in surviving is well done, but after that, it gets pretty cliched and you can see most of the plot developments in the film coming from a mile away. The only exception is a plot point at the very end of the film which comes right out of nowhere, with no foreshadowing, which felt to me like a tacked on excuse to derive emotional pathos from the film.
The performances though help the film to stand out. Robin Wright gives a strong performance here, especially in the first act when you see her desperation when things are going wrong and how close she comes to the edge, along with how the memories of family help to drive her and give her a reason to keep living. As the film goes on, the connection that she has with Demian Bichir as Miguel is strong. The chemistry that the two of them have turns the more cliched moments of the film into something quite charming and helps to give the film some much needed levity after the harrowing nature of the first act.
The technical elements of the film are also well handled. The direction and cinematography highlights both the beauty and the harshness of the American wilderness, showing the warmth of the summer months and the bitter nature of the winter months, adding to the believability of how bad things get for Edee. The design of the cabin Edee buys is good, with the first act of the film showing it to be dangerous and uninviting, but as Edee and Miguel fix more of it up and decorate it, there is a sense of comfort that is generated by the cabin.
Overall, Land is a pretty bland film all things considered. The decent cinematography and strong performances from Robin Wright and Demian Bichir are not able to fully make up for a fairly bland script. There are good ideas at play here and decent execution, but it’s not as good as it probably could have been.
My Rating: 3/5