★★★★ - STUFF
- Why Robin Wright's slight and quietly beautiful film is worth seeking out -
Any film that begins with The Staves’ achingly lovely interpretation of Springsteen's I'm on Fire, effortlessly transforming an ode to carnal lust into a tale of loss and redemption, is probably destined to contain a few narrative delights and some hard-won insights into human sadness.
Land is a slight and quietly beautiful film. There is a distracting self-awareness visible here at times, but Robin Wright – making her feature directing debut after several episodes of House of Cards – mostly triumphs in this tale of big city dweller going to seek consolation and purpose in the remote American wilderness.
Wright's Edee Mathis has suffered some unimaginable loss. Not just a partner, but perhaps also a child are gone. When Edee breaks down to her sister and cries, “Why am I here?” we know she isn't talking about any place in particular, but why she should even be alive.
Edee's attempt to answer that question leads her to a remote cabin in the mountains of Wyoming. Without adequate food, a clear way out, or any real idea of how to survive in the wilderness, Edee will, I guess, either survive or die trying. Edee seems ambivalent, almost disinterested, in her own fate.
The whole “seeking existential solace alone” genre has yielded films that run the gamut from tone-deaf to sublime. But Land raises the stakes higher than most with the very credible possibility that what we are witnessing here is a suicide in slow-motion. That, as at least a possibility behind Edee's decision, is never really discounted, just gently bypassed, as a few other people eventually find their way into the narrative.
Land is a small movie painted on a vast canvas. In its best passages, this is a damn near transcendent tale of grief eventually finding the light. And even in its most solipsistic moments, Wright's direction, the startling cinematography and the unfurling of Wright's own resilience on screen are enough to power us through that admirably economical running time. Bravo.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF
Land is now playing at Light House Cinema!