How do you embrace life when it thorws you a blow worse than death? Unlike Sophie Jones, Edee Mathis (Robin Wright) is not confused about how to cope with her grief. She wants out. She does contemplate taking her own life. But something holds her back, something vital that goes beyond grief.
Edee does the next best thing. She heads to the mountains, throws her mobile phone into a bin, sends her vehicle back and settles down into a state of immovable solitude in a one-room cottage which is barely large enough for her to sleep but large enough to accommodate her grief. Starting off as a story of unimaginable bereavement, Land then becomes a survival story with Edee almost killed in a ferocious blizzard that blows away her self confidence and leaves her half-dead. After this, Land evolves into something else, something passionate, precious and poignant.
The friendship that Edee forms with a fellow-loner Miguel(Demián Bichir) is a slow-burn intense experience brought to the screen with a rare sensitivity. At first the two outcasts, uncannily united by a similar tragedy in their life, share silences. Then they begin to laugh and sing together. There is never any sex. This is a truly out-of-body experience. What Robin Writer’s remarkable film tells us about human relationships goes way beyond the physical.
Land is not about geographical territory. It’s about that invisible space where an individual seeks and finds his or her true self. Edee’s self-awareness is not something we see. We feel it happening. By the end of the film she is stronger. You know what they say about what can’t break you. We feel her strength. We know it is born out of her frailties. Unbroken, unvanquished she is ready to rejoin civilization.
Land makes a very strong case for Man(or Woman) and the bonding with Nature. The imposing mountains, the freezing cold and the isolating snow storms, these are shot by cinematographer Bobby Bokowski in a mood of meditative melancholic majesty. Then there is the central performance. Robin Wright, s right in long-ago films like Nine Lives, Breaking & Entering and Unbreakable gives the performance of her lifetime. Her character’s pain will hit you where it hurts the most.
As a director, Ms Wright seems to have gathered together the acquired wisdom of two decades in front of the camera to know what lurks behind it. She is specially skilled in showing us how isolated an individual can be even in company while coping with grief. A truly remarkable directorial debut for an actress who has never shied away from exposing her truest feelings on camera. Here he lets us into a lot more than words can express.
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