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Peter Malone MSC  |  21 April 2021

LAND, US, 2021, Personal drama. Starring Robin Wright, Demian Bichir, Kim Dickens, Sarah Dawn Pledge, Warren Christie, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong. Directed by Robin Wright. 90 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes).

It is not good for anybody to be alone – words from the book of Genesis. This is one of the main messages of this portrait of a middle-aged woman, her retiring from the world, coping in the mountain wildernesses of Wyoming. While the title does emphasise the land, it might have been more appropriate to call the film Solitude. While there is wonderful scenery, the story is nevertheless introspective.

It can be noted that there is beautiful scenic photography – some drone shots over mountains and valleys. However, the film uses the strange device of minimal drone shots compared with a considerable number of photos of the scenery, like photos for a coffee table travel book, interpolated throughout the action.

The film is something of a labour of love for actress Robin Wright, who is now making her directorial debut. And, she takes on the central role of Edee, a middle-aged woman, seen initially at a counselling session, urged to express her feelings, but lost in her interior anxieties, feeling that she should separate herself from everyone and so goes into the Wyoming mountains.

As might be gauged from these comments, this is not a film for audiences who demand action. Initially, out in the mountains, in the primitive hut with its outhouse, the narrative is quiet, rather introverted, even somewhat claustrophobic.

Wright’s Edee experiences a number of flashbacks, puzzling the audience, someone who seems to be her sister, possibly a husband and child, but no explanations, that is until later.

The winters are particularly severe, and Edee becomes unwell and likely to die.

The drama of the film changes halfway through, when the sick Edee is discovered by a hunter, Miguel a sympathetic performance from Bichir, not exactly changing Edee’s decisions for solitude but reminding her, as well as us, that we do depend on others. At one point she asks why Miguel has helped her and he replies that she was in his path and therefore he would help. He himself has his own background story which has quite some elements of pathos.

This is the kind of film that puzzles, the central character who can alienate the audience at times, but a film which grows on its audience, eliciting feelings of compassion.

And, we realise again at the end, it is not good for anybody to be alone, that we are dependent on one another, that we need to surrender to the goodness and kindness of strangers, otherwise we live in solitude, in an isolation that can lead to death.

Released 29 April
Peter Malone MSC is an associate Jesuit Media


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