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‘Land’ teaches some powerful lessons

Movie Night with Bradley Griffith

“Land” is the feature film directorial debut of actor Robin Wright, who is well known for her roles in movies like “Forrest Gump” and “The Princess Bride” and the TV show “House of Cards.”

It may have taken her some time to get around to directing a movie, but she produced an excellent film for her debut. “Land” is available in theaters and on demand.

Edee (Wright) is not doing well. She is not doing well at all. Her husband and son are dead (the reason for their deaths is not revealed until the end). There’s nothing that her therapist or her sister, Emma (Kim Dickens), can say to bring them back or make her grief any less excruciating. Staying in her home in Chicago is not helping. Maybe nothing can help her. In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to survive her grief Edee, decides that she needs to move. She wants to go somewhere else, somewhere that she won’t have to be around people. More than anything else, she is having a hard time being around other people. Isolation is what she needs. Edee packs up anything she might need into a U-Haul pulled by a rental car and heads out west. She ends up in Wyoming where she finds a real estate agent to sell her a piece of property in the mountains. The property has many acres of land, but only a small cabin with no running water or electricity. She even asks the Realtor to take the rental car and trailer back to town and turn them in for her.

Edee is left alone to live or die in the wilderness. It’s exactly what she was looking for. Unfamiliar with these mountains (or any mountains, for that matter) and without any knowledge of how to live on her own in such a harsh environment that is Wyoming in winter, Edee is soon on the brink of death. She has given up. Until Miguel (Gabriel Bechir) stumbles upon her in her freezing cabin with no fire, food or water. Along with a help of a local nurse, Miguel manages to nurse Edee back to health, though she refuses to leave her mountain for treatment. Edee agrees to allow Miguel to show her how to live off the land and the two develop a friendship as Edee continues to survive, physically and emotionally, one day at a time.

The story is simple, yet powerful. Edee can’t cope with her loss. She is devastated and can no longer function in the middle of a city full of people. She wants to get off the grid and into the wilderness where she will never have to deal with another person again. I would wager that many people in her situation have wanted to do the same. “Land” is the story of someone who actually does it and, maybe, finds a little bit of peace.

There are few characters in the movie. Edee is in every scene and Miguel is in many scenes in the second half of the movie. Next to Edee, however, the most important character is the wilderness itself. Shot in Alberta, Canada, the scenery is spectacular. During the warmer months and even into the depths of winter, this is the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen on the big screen. From incredible vistas to a running river full of trout, Edee’s mountain is a paradise. It’s that amazing. But it is also brutal. Nature doesn’t care about Edee’s loss or pain. She makes a lot of dumb decisions, mostly from inexperience.

What Edee learns is that in the wilderness she has to earn her way or perish. That’s exactly what she wants. Edee is trying to earn redemption for something that’s not her fault. She is trying to earn forgiveness for continuing to live after her family is gone. It’s powerful and emotional. “Land” is the kind of movie where you either get it, or you don’t. I understand Edee’s need for isolation and she chose a magnificent place to spend the rest of her days. It also made me appreciate all that I have.

If you love the great outdoors, you owe it to yourself to see “Land” in theaters.

Grade: A- Rated PG-13 for thematic content, brief strong language, and partial nudity.