Director Robin Wright
Screenplay Jesse Chatham, Erin Dignam
Starring Robin Wright, Demián Bichir, Sarah Dawn Pledge, Kim Dickens
Land is where people go when their pain is too much even to share. Robin Wright is Edee, poignantly wrapped in the cocoon of someone suffering through an immense tragedy. We know she is without her husband and child, we just don’t know why. She has been through the point of wanting to end it all, but does not at her sister’s behest. Instead she moves away into the mountains of Wyoming to live off of the land, as far as her limited knowledge will take her.
Just before this takes her over the edge, she is rescued by Miguel (Bichir) who gets her medical attention, then sets out to teach Edee how to fish, hunt and generally survive. More importantly, he gives her grace.
There’s not a lot of pontificating in the story. Wright the director is confident and smart enough to take in the scenery and allow the characters to weave their way through the silence. The deepest they get is trying to figure out the lyrics to Everybody Wants to Rule the World as they make their way. We don’t need to be told about the suffering of Miguel and Edee. We can see it in their eyes.
There are no romantic subplots or points where nature rips life from someone’s hands in the middle of the story. Instead we see someone slowly disintegrate, then, with the right knowledge, build themselves back up again. All told, this film is a beautiful slice of life in that it helps someone come back from the worst of it on their own terms.
Women filmmakers are finally getting their due, and Wright puts herself in a key spot to be recognized for her intelligence, her wisdom and compassionate lens. She lets her art show us the value of humanity, particularly because she doesn’t feel the need to outright tell the viewer what is valuable about it. This is a magnificent work.
Thankfully, she gives Bichir the opportunity to flex his acting skill, outside of the bit parts he’s been relegated to since his Oscar nomination in A Better Life. Seeing both actors grace the screen is something to behold. There is no need to push caricatures or tics onto the screen. This is real life, envisioned in the purest form of art. The story settles in on you like a quiet summer evening listening to birds. By the time you know everyone’s story, you’ve lived it yourself.
See this film if you want to experience the calm after the storm.