HomeMovies'Land' is a Familiar Story that Plays to Its Strengths

‘Land’ is a Familiar Story that Plays to Its Strengths

Robin Wright stars as "Edee" in her feature directorial debut LAND, a Focus Features release.
Photo Credit : Daniel Power / Focus Features

In Land, we see a grief-stricken widow Edee (Robin Wright), isolate herself in the unforgiving Wyoming wilderness. There, she is ill-prepared to stave off death, which may ultimately be her plan. While her environment may be unfamiliar, her journey through grief, to find purpose, should not be to audiences. Familiar doesn’t have to be dull however—especially when handled correctly. In her feature directorial debut, Wright’s film succeeds more than it fails, and it accomplishes that on the strength of its leads and its brilliant setting.

“I’m here because I choose to be,” Edee explains, having already discarded her cell phone and vehicle in favor of complete seclusion. She has suffered a great trauma, explained through opening therapy sessions and a conversation with her sister (Kim Dickens). Her answer to escape those who mean well, but only serve to plunge her further into her despair, is to avoid people entirely and try to live off of the land as long as she can. The land, in this case, is both a protagonist and antagonist depending on the conditions and how Edee is fairing.

Simply having regular tasks to complete in order to sustain herself, like collecting water from the river, fishing, or tending to her garden, provide Edee with distraction and meaning. If time to reflect and think is what she seeks, then the beauty of the mountains that surround her are the perfect setting. Whether it is a stunning shot of her soaking in a tub outside while watching the sunset, or an unrelenting winter storm,  DP Bobby Bukowski, helps Wright to capture this land at its best—and its worst.

Perhaps because Edee herself is undecided on whether she wants to live, she makes frustratingly awful decisions at every turn early on. Something as simple as not bringing gloves to help chop wood can be a painful inconvenience, but not properly securing or winterizing her cabin can bring death much faster than she realized. Wolves offer the first threat outside of her window at night, and then a bear reminds her that nature doesn’t care if you’re still trying to figure things out. Every creature there is doing what it can to survive, whether she is or not.

Visions and odd dream sequences about the family that she lost are thankfully done with before the film’s midpoint. They seemed unnecessary to the story being told, especially since Wright is able to convey far more with a combination of expressions and shots of her surroundings. With a short runtime, it was best to rely on those stronger elements to provide the exposition necessary for the payoff of the second half of the film. Wright is able to convincingly portray Edee as both determined and desperate, clearly weighing her own wants against a sense of responsibility she feels to those that cared, and still care about her. Her breaking point and the subsequent, miraculously well-timed intervention are fluid and believable.

After a hunter named Miguel (Damián Bichir) comes to her aid, and then surprisingly honors her wishes for anonymity and privacy, she allows him to visit often enough to teach her how to properly survive on her own. Their gradual friendship is uplifting, and seems to progress naturally–even if their similarities are far too convenient–and things unfold to a predictable conclusion. Bichir fills his role perfectly, with the right amount of charm and gravity, and allows Edee to verbalize her thoughts to someone. Together, they elevate this story about grief penned by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam to a point where it exceeds checking cliché boxes, and instead delivers a real emotional payoff.

There is always a place for films like Land, which blend a feeling of being lost with a desire to find a connection with this vast and beautiful planet. While this offering is certainly more plot-driven than the recently successful Nomadland, it still safely relies on the strength of its setting to build and sustain its emotion, and Wright is talented and smart enough to understand that as both its director and star. There is nothing wrong with being familiar or predictable, as long as something is also effective, and Land manages that.

Land is now available on VOD.

Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison is a regular contributor for TV and Movies. He’s that guy that spends an hour in an IMDb black hole of research about every film and show he watches. Strongly believes Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the best show to ever exist, and that Peaky Blinders needs more than 6 episodes per series. East Carolina grad, follow on Twitter and IG @bdmurchison.


  1. Your review was just detailed enough to help me decide I will venture to give this one a look. You never disappoint even if the 🎥 does.

Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected