Edee (Robin Wright) has no desire to live. She was once a wife and a mother, but a cruel twist of fate snatched both in one blow. So Edee packs up and leaves Chicago for a remote cabin located deep in the Wyoming mountains. The supplies she takes are minimal, and her survival skills are even less. When the realtor escorts her to the abandoned shack with no running water or electricity, Edee asks him to have someone come and collect her car and trailer. You need a vehicle, he implores. But Edee is resolute. He nods and says nothing. It’s possible he’s seen a suicide or two in his day.
Wright directs and stars in Land, a movie that is both completely literal and mired in metaphor. And since the latter is wrapped around the movie’s reveal, let’s stick to the former. Winter comes, and Edee has nothing. Luck befalls her when Miguel (Demián Bichir) happens upon her cabin and checks in. He finds Edee frozen and half dead and calls up Alawa Crow (Sarah Dawn Pledge), a nurse from town, to help. They bring Edee back. Despite Edee’s insistence that she would rather go it alone, Miguel continues to show up at the cabin and educates Edee in trapping and hunting, not to mention bringing large amounts of supplies from town. They forage a relationship, and Edee shows signs of life. And though Land covers a couple of years in a short span of time (89 minutes), there’s a nagging feeling of gloss. Everything seems a little too easy, a little too taken for granted. From the land Edee purchases—thousands of pristine acres where she can hunt and fish with no license, permits, or intrusion—to the help she gets from Miguel and Crow. At this point, you can probably guess where the metaphors start creeping in.
Land is a handsome movie, shot by Bobby Bukowski, and Bukowski and Wright do a good job making nature look inviting and peaceful—even harsh winters look subdued. In another filmmaker’s hands, this setting probably would have show nature’s indifference to Edee’s grief. But here, the land almost welcomes it—heals it, too. That’s a pretty sentiment, but it also feels hollow at the same time.
Land is playing the Sundance Film Festival.