Land review: Robin Wright delivers a ‘delicate’ directorial feature debut in isolation drama

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A person can exist alone, but can they truly live?

In the wake of mysterious tragedy, a grieving Edee Holzer (director Robin Wright) departs her urban life to live a life of isolation in a cabin in the wilderness.

However, her life alone soon turns treacherous and she finds herself in a worrying near-death experience but is saved by a good Samaritan, played by Demian Bichir.

Now in contact with another human amidst her grief, will Edee be able to find her way back to the resolve to live or will she succumb to her own self-destructive devastation?

Despite a powerful and rich turn from the ever-reliable Wright as Edee that is simultaneously reserved and expressive, the actress' feature directorial debut can’t help but feel somewhat predictable and formulaic.

Robin Wright directs and stars in her feature directorial debut, Land.
(Image: Daniel Power/Focus Features LLC 2020/Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

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The broken urbanite taking herself into the wilderness feels like well-worn territory, while her attempts at self-isolation – of course, an ever-relevant theme in the time of the coronavirus pandemic –  as expected only make clear the human need to interact and connect with others no matter what, even in the face of enormous difficulties.

However, it is beautifully photographed by Bobby Bukowski, with the rugged landscape of the mountains in Alberta, Canada appropriately being the true star of Land, offering majestic eye candy for the majority of its run time.

In addition to Wright’s reliable performance, Demian Bichir also delivers warm and compassionate work as a saviour for Edee in more ways than one, carrying an easy chemistry with his co-star.

Elsewhere, Gone Girl star Kim Dickens place a small role as Edee’s sister who she leaves behind for her self-imposed life of solitude but is not given enough material to make an impression.

Robin Wright, the director and star of drama film Land.
(Image: Matt Sayles/Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

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Overall, the sparse narrative does move along at a peaceful and contemplative pace, but when change and challenges arise, the beats feel a bit too expected.

Yet, as the film reaches its emotional climax, this succeeds thanks to its well-calculated rendering brought about by its performers.

Wright clearly can self-direct and ultimately comes out of the experience well, but it is a shame there is not more interesting and complicated material to discover here.

Verdict

Land is a visually-appealing and delicate feature debut for director Robin Wright and boasts another strong performance for the accomplished actress, even if its journey feels somewhat cliché and unoriginal.

Land premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2021 and will be released in the UK on April 9, 2021.

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