SUNDANCE : Robin Wright makes strong start in directing films with “LAND”

Last Updated: February 4, 2021By Tags: , , ,

Robin Wright has long been one of our best actresses. Her work in much of her filmography over the decades has shown an intensity and depth, making her one of the most dedicated thespians of her time.

To her impressive resume Robin Wright now adds the title of director with her debut film “Land.”

Wright stars as Edee Mathis, a woman who carries the burden of an unimaginable tragedy but one that remains somewhat vague for much of the film’s duration.

Edee can no longer exist in the world. Life, as she knows it, has been destroyed and the emotional fallout is catastrophic.

Interactions with people hold no interest and no longer have meaning so Edee removes herself from society and buys a cabin in the Wyoming mountains.

Edee has lived in the city for most of her life and has absolutely no skills for surviving in the wilderness.

After a while, and due her lack of the aforesaid survival skills, Edee finds herself without firewood and food and ends up starving and near-death. Her frail and cold body lies alone on the cabin floor, letting death take over. The scene is a quiet and heartbreaking representation of Edee’s final disconnect from life. The towel is thrown.

Savior of life and soul comes in the form of Damian Bechir, a hunter who happens to stop by the cabin—just in time. While the timing of Bechir’s character is a bit too neat, the actor makes something quite persuasive out of the role.

This is a survival story, to be sure, but one that evolves into a tale of friendship, the kind of pure and non-judgmental friendship that can truly bring one back from a dark place.

Wright and Bechir do wonderful work as two souls who find an organic connection through patience and a believable communication.

The unrelenting conditions of mother nature spare no one, nor does the overwhelming weight of grief. Wright’s film takes on that symbolism with quiet subtlety while the screenplay from Jesse Chatham and Eric Dignam examines our disengagement from nature, and from ourselves.

Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski has coaxed visceral beauty out of the American wilderness, never overwhelms but encompasses the welcoming and dangerous presence of nature.

There is a medicine of the soul in becoming one with nature, but we all benefit from human connection. While Edee wants to disconnect from all she knows (as what made her life whole is now gone), it is her connection with Miguel that brings her back to her own humanity and her willingness to interact with people again.

While the final act is a bit too simplistic, Robin Wright’s “Land” finds a beauty in its examination of remorse, grief, and surviving beyond tragedy.

Edee’s journey is intimate and personal. “Land” is the emotionally-immersive film to tell her story.