America’s wild open spaces provide refuge for Robin Wright in her thoughtful and rather beautiful directorial debut, Land.
Wright herself plays Edee, a smart Chicago lawyer who, after suffering an unspecified family tragedy, heads to the Rocky Mountains, rents an abandoned cabin and hunkers down for a cold winter of seclusion.
Far be it from me to give anyone outdoor survival tips (I have trouble completing a walk on Hampstead Heath) but Edee doesn’t look prepared for what’s to come. She injures her hand chopping wood, struggles to catch fish in the fast-flowing river, is kept awake by howling coyotes and, soon enough, she’s visited by a bear who wrecks the place and heads off with her cans of tuna.
No amount of stylish knitwear can save her. And as she freezes away in stubborn isolation, death looks like being the next unwelcome visitor.
Let’s just say that Demian Bechir’s mystical hunter Miguel gets there first and thaws her back to life, or to as much life as she’s willing to embrace. He does get her smiling a bit, which warms the film up no end and soon the pair are lighting camp fires, sitting under the myriad stars and singing 80s power ballads – maybe that’s why the coyotes are howling.
It all heads, somewhat slowly and painfully, to big reveals: why are these two characters so hermetically sealed?
Wright directs with herself in almost total silence and admirably resists anything too showy or indulgent, using the wonderful scenery to put Edee’s problems into perspective while suggesting isolation isn’t the answer. Or, if it is, take warmer clothes.