The cure for the pain is in the pain, and Robin Wright’s Land understands that better than most.
In her directorial debut, Robin Wright embarks on a literal and metaphorical quest for peace amid the suffocating heartache of grief. Land pulls no punches in its search for comfort in an uncaring world, but it provides some insight into why we’re doomed to suffer.
You never know how the loss of loved ones will change your course in life. For Edee, her husband and child’s death brings grief that presents as a crushing force that causes her to lose any sense of meaning or purpose. Rather than stay in the place where her life comes undone, Edee flees to rural Wyoming to live alone off the grid. It’s a harsh life, but it comes with gorgeous sunsets and more than enough work to keep her mind busy. At least, more active than usual.
Edee quickly learns that rash decision-making creates additional problems. An early encounter with a bear leaves her short on supplies. A snowstorm keeps a constant chill in her bones. She is woefully underprepared for the lifestyle she’s attempting to live, and nature’s indifference to it all only reaffirms the sorrow she’s working hard to escape.
Survival films are nothing new, but few begin with a protagonist choosing to place themself in an impossible position. Writers Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam seem to understand that in life, we often force ourselves into challenges in a fleeting attempt to ignore difficulties that we did not create but which themselves must be overcome. Rather than revel in the near-constant state of misery where Edee initially exists, they provide relief in the form of Demian Bichir, a local who appears when she needs a friend the most.
Bichir is a welcome presence in the proceedings, but Land is the Wright show throughout. As much as others may come and go from the story, we are present to witness Edee’s discovery that the only way to overcome the pain inside is to work through it. As she begins to understand her new life, her comfort with the past slowly comes to pass. Every new skill and lesson serves to reinforce the knowledge that she can never go back or undo whatever happened before she entered our lives.
With the help of a gorgeous presentation made possible by legendary cinematographer Bobby Bukowski, Land marks the beginning of a brilliant new chapter in the unpredicted career of Robin Wright. It’s a heartfelt testament to the human spirit’s endurance that encourages viewers to chase their greatest aspirations in life with their whole heart, mind, body, and soul. Grief is a hell of an affliction, but it’s also a universal one, and following along with Edee’s journey is proof that things will get better if you work on yourself and allow the seasons of life to pass.