Land tells the story of Edee, a woman who thinks that she wants to die. Edee is played by Robin Wright, who also directed the film.
Edee is dealing with a tragedy, one that the film provides clues to understanding without going into too much details. Edee has visions of a man and a child and it’s easy to figure out that they were once her family. There are other flashbacks of Edee’s sister, Emma (Kim Dickens), begging Edee not to harm herself. Edee meets with a therapist and says that she doesn’t want to share her grief with other people. She wants to deal with her grief alone, a perfectly reasonable request but no one that is likely to be understood in today’s age of social media oversharing.
When Edee drives out tp an isolated, mountain cabin, she says that she’s looking to start a new life, off the grid. However, as is quickly revealed by a conversation with the helpful Cole (Brad Leland), Edee doesn’t know anything about living in the wilderness. What’s more, she doesn’t appear to want to learn anything either. She has little interest in Cole’s advice. She asks Cole to return her rental car for her. When Cole says that it’s not a good idea to live in the mountains without some sort of a vehicle, Edee shrugs him off. She’s obviously not planning on coming down from the mountain.
Instead, she plans to die in the cabin. The sight of the man and the child, standing ghost-like in the woods, does not change her mind. And yet, when Edee finds herself with her forehead resting atop the barrel of a rifle, she cannot bring herself to pull the trigger. When she is approached by a bear, she retreats to her cabin, showing that she still has an instinct for self-preservation. (Either that, or she would just rather die in a less gruesome way than a bear attack.) Edee leaves it to nature to determine her fate. She’ll stay in the cabin and starve herself to death or she’ll let the elements take her out. It’s a plan that takes the responsibility off of her.
However, there’s a nurse named Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge) and a hunter named Miguel (Demien Bircher) in the area and when they discover Edee near death in her cabin, they nurse her back to health. Miguel tells her that there are better ways to die than starving herself and, in his polite but direct way, calls her out for not appreciating the fact that she has something that most other people don’t, the ability to retreat to her cabin when life gets to difficult. Miguel is recovering from his own tragedy and is also living off the grid. He offers to show Edee how to hunt and survive. Edee agrees, on the condition that he not tell her about anything that’s happening in the outside world.
The scenery looks beautiful and both Robin Wright and Demian Bircher give effective performances as two people who don’t necessarily talk a lot but who instinctively understand that they have much in common. The film is respectful of the grief that’s felt by both Edee and Miguel without descending into mawkishness or cheap dramatics. It’s a steadily-paced movie that trusts the audience to figure things out without having to spell everything out. Land is a simple film but it works.