Life & Culture

Film review: Land

This sedate film is unoriginal, but shows promise


Demian Bichir and Robin Wright star in a scene from the movie "Land." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Daniel Power, Focus Features)

House of Cards star Robin Wright’s directorial debut is a sedate and mournful drama about a grieving woman in search of solitude and redemption. Written by Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam, Land also stars prolific acclaimed Mexican American actor Demián Bichir (Weeds, The Midnight Sky).

After an undisclosed tragedy, Edee (Wright) decides to sell all she owns and start a new life off the grid in the Wyoming. She soon realises that life in the wilderness is harder than she had anticipated. Luckily for her, help comes in the shape of the charming and dependable local hunter Miguel (a fantastic turn by Bichir) who teaches her that life is worth living, even if it seems impossible right now.

While Wright’s direction is more than adequate, there’s no denying that this is the sort of stuff we’ve seen done better and with more conviction by the likes of Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace) or more recently Chloe Zhao (Nomadland). Granted, Wright’s film is handsomely executed thanks to Bobby Bukowski’s stunning cinematography, but there’s no ignoring the bagginess of a disappointing screenplay which is as predictable as it is reductive.

Althoughlet down by a rather contrived third chapter, there are compensations. Land is more than adequately acted by Wright and Bichir who put in two strong performances throughout.

And while one can’t ignore its contrived storytelling style, there is still a lot here to enjoy here. Wright’s film may not reinvent the complex introspective drama genre, but her filmmaking skills are only likely to improve. Let’s hope that next time she is given something with more substance to work with.

In cinemas from Friday

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