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Sundance 2021: Robin Wright Tackles Grief, Loss And Loneliness In Feature Directorial Debut ‘Land’ – Review

After suffering from a family tragedy, Edee (Robin Wright) decides to live off the grid. Despite conversations with her sister (Kim Dickens), who doesn’t want her to leave and stresses that there are other ways for her to deal with her loss, Edee decides to leave despite her sister’s concerns. Edee makes the long trek to a small cabin in the woods with her supplies, but without any real know-how about living so far from the rest of civilization. 

The audience sees Edee come into contact with various wild animals and have to battle the elements, nearly succumbing to them before she is rescued by two strangers who come across her cabin. Alama (Sarah Dawn Pledge) is a nurse and alongside local hunter, Miguel (Demian Bichir), help Edee get back on her feet. Along the way, the pair unlock a friendship for the ages and pull things from one another that they believed were long left behind. In discovering this kinship, the two learn to deal with their loss together and find new meaning in the way they live their lives.

Robin Wright in Land - Still
Robin Wright appears in Land by Robin Wright, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Daniel Power – Copyright Focus Features LLC 2020).

In her feature directorial debut, Wright shines both in front of and behind the camera in Land. Wright not only pulls a powerful performance from herself but the rest of the cast in this tale that deals with coping with one’s grief and learning to live again despite loss and hardship. Wright and Bichir play off one another well on-screen and the moments the pair share with one another are some of the film’s best. Watching the pair go through a myriad of emotions both with one another and apart, was a joy to watch. Bichir and Wright were definitely in their acting bags with Land as emotional and touching lead characters.

In addition to the powerful performances in Land, other standouts include the beautiful cinematography and a stellar soundtrack which both play a huge part in the film. Not only is it visually and audibly stunning, but it is also used in a way to depict the various acts and stages of grief within the movie. Throughout the film, we see all of the seasons play out and not only do they help depict Edee’s state of being, but they also phase in time with her journey while she processes her grief. While sometimes poignant, it was also very cathartic in ways that I was not anticipating. Put together, it creates a powerful portrayal of rediscovering one’s self after a loss.

Demian Bichir and Robin Wright appear in Land by Robin Wright, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. (Copyright Focus Features LLC 2020).

The script for Land written by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam is one that falls into certain formulaic aspects throughout, however, Land is still able to draw the audience in with its universal themes. Many people have experienced various losses in their lives and/or tragic events, and it would be remiss to say that Land doesn’t pull at the heartstrings with its subject matter (you will likely need a few tissues). However, the film doesn’t solely rely upon that. While there are some tear-filled moments and poignancy about it, this isn’t all the movie is about. 

Although Land is a human story that does speak to grief, loss and loneliness, at its core, it’s a testament to renewal, human connection and the resilience of the human spirit. These testaments in conjunction with a phenomenal cast made for a solid feature directorial debut from Wright.

Land had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 31 and releases in theatres on February 12, 2021.


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