For this week's Movie Minutes, KUNR Entertainment Reviewer Robin Holabird explores the film Land and says it offers strong acting and striking scenery.
Anyone who watched Robin Wright as a warrior in the Wonder Woman movies knows she can play tougher than her breakthrough role as The Princess Bride. Wright mixes that Wonder Woman toughness with fragility as star and director of her newest movie Land. Wright stars as Edee, a woman so broken by family tragedy that she flees Chicago for the Mountain West in an isolated cabin surrounded by wilderness.
As [the] director, Wright grasped the challenge of outdoor filming and prepared by staying in a small trailer near the set. Edee, however, fails to foresee the undertaking’s enormity and initially finds herself overwhelmed by such problems as a hungry bear. Though not precisely intent on surviving, Edee nonetheless displays an openness that lets her accept help from others, plus absorb the magnificence and healing spirit of nature.
To get this across, Wright arms herself with a striking location and a strong supporting cast. Using Alberta, Canada as a stand-in for Wyoming, Wright’s brief shooting schedule overlaps seasonal changes that make the terrain even more intimidating as calming autumn leaves drop into the white cold of winter. Cinematography captures both nature’s ruggedness and its soul sustaining beauty.
Along with effective locations, Wright guides her actors well. That includes herself, and it never hurts to work with someone whose track record features a standout role in House of Cards with a resulting large supply of Emmy nominations. Joining Wright, Demián Bichir once again stands out, emanating the gentle warmth he showed with his Oscar-nominated turn in A Better Life. A self-proclaimed city boy, he fakes his character’s outdoorsy qualities without a flinch during a hunting scene that includes dressing the kill.
Though elements cross into survival territory found in such movies as Winter’s Bone and The Revenant, Land comes across in a more understated manner, partly because it ultimately deals with grief and forgiveness. Low key and heartfelt, Land proves fully grounded as a well-made, sensitive little film.
Land opened in theaters before hitting streaming services.
Robin Holabird is KUNR's entertainment reviewer, author and former film commissioner for the Nevada Film Office.