Sundance 2021: “Land”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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It’s unimaginable what a person suffering from the loss of a loved one goes through. Some have to live with it until their heart can learn to tolerate the pain while some decide to end their grief instantly. Some look for other ways to see if there is another way to move on. Remember, we can change our surroundings, city or even the country but can we really replace a broken heart?

Edee (Robin Wright) has lost her emotional connection with the world after the untimely passing of her husband and her son. Lost in grief, she puts the life she knew behind to live in the wilderness. As she hopes to connect with the new world, she almost dies only to be saved by a local hunter named Miguel (Demián Bichir), who with his nurse friend, Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge), helps her to recover.  As the two begin to form a strong bond, it remains to be seen if it will help Edee start living again. That and more will be revealed in this poignant story of love and loss, grief and sorrow, directed by Robin Wright.

“What am I doing here?” Edee asks, with tears coming down her eyes. There is no need for a big revelation as we quickly understand it takes something big and painful to break a woman. And that break comes after we rightfully guessed it has to do with her husband and her son. As she packs her stuff and travels towards Wyoming (but shot in Alberta, Canada), the woman approaches her remote cabin, dropping her cell phone in a garbage bin in case she gets tempted to make a phone call. She even gets rid of her car in the attempt to cut ties from civilization and having no plans returning back.

It starts off as a slow-burning drama but quickly develops excellent pace, letting the story unfold in the right manner. When Miguel appears, after discovering Edee half-dead, things change from that moment on. Edee quickly makes her request to Miguel to not bring her any news from the outside world. He honors her wish, leaving one very important news he could share with her, in secret.

Having starred in films like “Forrest Gump”, “The Princess Bride” (after having a break from soap opera Santa Barbara) and “Message in the Bottle” and most recently in “House of Cards”, Robin Wright does an amazing job of capturing the emotional depth of Edee. She showcases what it means to have lost a loved one, not just as a director, but as an actor too. It is fascinating seeing how much effort Wright put into her directorial debut, having the film conclude on such an emotionally high note.

That said, “Land” is more like a refuge for Edee, who must reconnect with herself. Yes, she still has a sister who deeply cares about her. But what the film does is explore the level of loss, its impact on those who are left behind and why sometimes we don’t care about others when we are in a deep dark world that has no light at the end of the tunnel. Not revealing much about the circumstances that led to the death of her husband and her son, you will understand towards the end why it was more difficult for her to deal with something that was so unexpected that it literally makes her lose interest in life itself. And that is something which was up to the director Robin Wright to deliver, which she did in a very mesmerizing way.

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