Land (M) - 89 minutes
Coping with extreme loss when there is no relief or solace is at the heart of a sensitive new film starring Robin Wright (in her first feature in the director’s chair).
Edee (Wright) has been devastated by the deaths of her husband and their young son in tragic circumstances, details of which are not made clear until the end of the movie.
Although she has leant on her sister Emma (Kim Dickens) for support, she is at breaking point.
Seeing a health care specialist does nothing to assuage her grief either.
The city slicker decides to cut herself off from the world and move to picturesque and ruggedly mountainous Wyoming.
She buys an old, rundown shack, to which she takes minimal possessions.
She tosses her mobile phone and, once ensconced, has no car.
But with no basic survival skills, try as she does, her introduction to the wild is particularly daunting.
Starving and sick, a quirk of fate leads her to be rescued by a kind-hearted man, Miguel (Demián Bechir) and a nurse, Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge).
Miguel nurses Edee back to health and teaches her how to trap and hunt, but doesn’t impose himself on her.
He even adheres to her request not to provide her with knowledge about the outside world.
Although still melancholy, Edee gradually finds a way forward.
Necessarily slow burn, Land works well due to three key factors – the writing, the direction and the performances.
With verbiage kept to a minimum by writers Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam, it is the actions that speak volumes.
Wright, in particular, and the small cast around her, it must be said, do a fine job conveying their respective character traits.
For Edee, it is about learning to live again.
Wright displays heartache, despair, resilience and single mindedness to the point of obstinacy in realising her.
For his part, Bechir channels a quiet calm and tolerance.
In a small role, Pledge, as Alawa, comes across as a woman trying her best to provide Edee with the medical attention she needs.
The magnificent – if harsh and unrelenting – landscape presents as a key character in the piece.
Bobby Bukowski’s stunning cinematography captures that in all its glory and diversity.
But more than anything else, Land is Wright’s vessel and she steers the ship with a steady and knowledgeable hand.
Rated M, Land scores a 7½ out of 10.