Land (3 stars)

Land

Robin Wright impresses as both director and star in this stirring survival drama

How do you go on when all that you love has been ripped away? That's the difficult question at the heart of this visually stunning and achingly sad story of surviving both the ravages of grief and the brutality of the elements. Transitioning from helming TV to film, esteemed actress Robin Wright makes her feature directorial debut, while her sterling lead performance drives the narrative and caps off an impressive midlife career reinvention – she's been a striking and authoritative presence in everything from House of Cards to Wonder Woman and Blade Runner 2049.

Land finds the grieving Edee Holzer (Wright) seeking solace and escape from her woes in a remote Wyoming cabin, deliberately and dangerously cutting herself off from the world, with no access to a phone or vehicle. It's a horrendously difficult existence; this city-dweller is starting from scratch in terms of her self-sufficiency and wilderness nous, as even simple tasks like collecting water or chopping firewood initially prove challenging. She eventually runs into serious trouble, with kind-hearted hunter Miguel (Demián Bichir) and nurse Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge) coming to her rescue, while the continued attention and assistance of Miguel offers her a much-needed way back to society.

Although its premise acknowledges that fate can be desperately cruel, it's a film which retains a tremendous faith in humanity. 'You were in my path,' Miguel tells Edee simply when she asks why he's helping her, and the film's screenwriters Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam introduce a welcome touch of humour as Miguel becomes Edee's 'Yoda', and his love for cheesy eighties music (including Tears For Fears' anthem 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World') brings some lightness into her life.

Wright has great weight as a performer, including the ability to compellingly fill the silences of this stubborn and taciturn woman, Kim Dickens is well-cast if underused as her sister, while Bichir's easy charm is affectingly employed and there's poignancy when Miguel's own backstory comes into view. There are a few on the nose emotional notes and there's a touch of predictability as Land draws to a close, but it's a stirring and encouraging start to Wright's career as a feature director.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 4 Jun.

Land

  • 3 stars
  • 2021
  • US / UK / Canada
  • 1h 29min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Robin Wright
  • Written by: Jesse Chatham, Erin Dignam
  • Cast: Robin Wright, Demián Bichir
  • UK release: 4 June 2021

A bereaved woman retreats to a cabin in the Wyoming wilderness.