Monday, March 29, 2021

Movie Review: Land

“Why am I here?” she asks her sister. Edee is a woman who is suddenly without her family after a traumatic event. So traumatic that she cannot discuss it. The movie opens with a woman in an upscale therapist office silently watching the grains of sand in the hourglass fall.

Movie Review: Land 


Therapist: Edee, why did you decide to come here?

Edee: Emma, my sister, said you were magic.

The session continues. Slowly and with pauses. We learn that Edee is in the session at her sister’s request.

Therapist: How are you feeling, right now, in general, what are you feeling?

Edee: I’m feeling, um, that it’s really difficult to be around people. Because they just want me to be better

We do not know how Edee lost her loved ones (until the last few minutes of the movie). She has flashback memories of her son and husband so we are aware they are dead. Her grief is overwhelming and numbing. She tells the therapist that in the beginning she shared her feelings with others. But she stopped. 

Edee: Why would I want anyone to share in that? They can’t anyway.

Therapist: But that means you are alone with your pain.

And that seems to be all that Edee can manage. Being alone with her pain.

Edee is a “city” woman who packs up and moves to a remote cabin in the wilderness. Edee cuts off all human contact. She tosses her phone into the trash, which severs all ties with the world including with her loving sister. It is unknown to me if her goal was to heal herself or to “not be here” – which she almost succeeded at on more than one occasion (warning: some of the scenes are uncomfortable - a potential trigger for some.)

She clearly should not have survived her self-imposed “cure”. She was clearly ill-prepared to wander off into the wilderness and exacerbated the risk by having her rental car picked up. From the flashbacks we know that she has been fishing and has that skill. And she seems to intend to provide food for herself from the land in addition to the very small amount of canned goods she brought along. From a drawing in crayon, we know that in the past there was someone who wanted to go fishing and live in the mountains. Perhaps this is why she chose to move to this off-grid cabin.

Edee (Robin Wright) is found by Miguel (Demian Bichir) nearly frozen and starved to death. Miguel and Alawa (a nurse from the nearby small town) nurse Edee back to health.

Edee continues to exclude people from her life, but allows Miguel just enough contact during infrequent visits to teach her how to trap food and to hunt game. After all, Miguel said that he would respect her wishes. He would teach her to trap and to hunt in the fall. Then he would leave her alone. Miguel is a man of his word. The seasons go by: planting, foraging, harvest, hunting, and a return to snow. The years go by. Two years.



My Thoughts About This Amazon Prime Movie.

I rented this movie on Amazon for far too much money. I regret having spent that much for an Amazon Prime rental. However, as odd as it sounds, if/when it is released in an inexpensive blu-ray or CD version I will buy it and watch it again. 

The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The cabin scenes were filmed in Alberta, Canada atop Moose Mountain.

I found it to be well-acted and I think the messages related to grief and trauma are supremely important reminders to us all. Each person handles depression, trauma, and grief differently. Not every mainstream treatment is effective. And most of all, depression, trauma, and grief are very painful. It is not easy for people to just “be better.” 

Some reviewers complain that Land was “slow”. And that the character was “egotistical” and “selfish”. Some reviewers complained about the choppy flashbacks. I found all of those things to be a realistic part of the experience of many people with debilitating depression. Severe depression does not allow the person to think of others. It impacts the person’s thoughts and their 5 senses. Memories can be intrusive – sometimes welcomed, sometimes not.

I think the “slowness” of the movie was perfect. Yes, it was slow-paced. I don’t believe the movie was meant to be an action/adventure movie. True depression and hopelessness is like swimming through neck-deep mud. It is restricting. People are busy trying to survive each moment of every day.  I felt the pace of movie portrayed this feeling perfectly.

I only wish that the movie had been longer. That we would have been spectators of more details of the journey, the landscape, and of each season. And of the lessons taught by Miguel.

I hope the message of the movie is, and is understood as; depression, grief, and trauma are difficult things to get through. But they are survivable. And while every person has an individual response and recovery, it is better when it is not done alone. Each person who gets through it has the ability to be meaningful to the next person who is struggling.


Related Link:

This movie reminded me a bit of Wild with Reese Witherspoon. The movie was based on the written memoir of Cheryl Strayed and was another story of how a woman left civilization after experiencing severe grief and loss and ending up finding herself.  You can read my review of Wild here.

The effects of loss and trauma on a human are not pretty. And yet many people not only survive, but thrive after they get through it. These two stories are examples of surviving the nitty-gritty and finding the reasons to live. 





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12 comments:

  1. This sounds like a really interesting movie Dawn Rae and one that I just could enjoy. The struggle is real and sometimes just knowing that you are not alone in that, makes it much more livable (if that makes sense!). I think there are times in everyone's life where you need to see how others cope and learn from those who travel that road. It's different for everyone, yet the same too!

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    1. That makes perfect sense! You are right... no one is in the same boat, but we all go through rough seas at times. If you watch the movie I'd like to hear what you think about it.

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  2. I can understand a disconnect from the world and life when a traumatic event produces a deep depression. Though going so far off grid would be a scary way to deal with it. The story sounds powerful and the scenery gorgeous. Thanks for this interesting in-depth review of 'Land'.

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    1. You are very welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply.

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  3. Interesting review. I would think I would have to pick a right time to watch it and I appreciate your insight.

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    1. I'd say that it is definitely not an "anyone, anytime, anywhere" type of movie. Thank you for your comment.

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  4. Something I have always loved about you, Dawn, is your insight and compassion. I've known people who grieved openly and that can make others uncomfortable because they think they have to "fix" things somehow. I understand how someone who is hurting gets tired of people wanting them to just be better (often too soon). It is difficult to watch someone you love grieving, but we all have to let each other grieve as needed, at their own pace. My hope would be that people would view this movie and understand that it is not about being self-absorbed. It is about survival even when the survivor doesn't wish to survive. Sounds like a very deep, yet true to life, movie that everyone should see before they try to help someone submerged in grief. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll try to find the movie and pick the right time to watch it.

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    1. "It is about survival even when the survivor doesn't wish to survive." Yes. That is it, exactly. Thank you for your kind words. If you watch it at some point, I hope you let me know what you thought. I tend to like movies that others don't so much.

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  5. During the last several years of their lives, my husband and I moved in with my parents to enable them to remain in their house until they died. My husband and I inherited their house after my mom died, and I was surrounded not only by their possessions, which were difficult to go through, and even more difficult to let go of, but continued to live in their (now our) home (and still do). I was extremely close to my mom, in particular, and I was immersed in grief for several years after my dad's and her deaths. Well meaning family members and friends kept telling me it was time to "get over it," which I found hurtful, and which made it impossible for me to express my continued, profound grief over their passing to anyone except my husband. Each of us grieves differently, and it takes however long it takes. Although I don't think I could ever choose to go into isolation in the wilderness, I can certainly understand Edee's desire to isolate herself from others who "just want [her] to be better." Thank you for a beautiful, honest, and heartfelt review of this film.

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    1. Margaret, I didn't know that about you and your parents. I am sorry. And it's so incredibly hard to literally be surrounded by "the stuff" and yet try to move on. You are very welcome. And thank you for sharing your personal experience.

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  6. Wow, you had me from beginning to end on this review. I'm not sure I could watch it; to witness so much internal suffering. I'd have to be in a certain mood I suspect. However, what an interesting, and horrendous storyline. A story that unfortunately many people, I'm sure, will relate too. I don't mean this to sound all holier-than-though(ish) but if I had one wish, it would be for the suffering of all people to end - or that they get through it quickly. Having gone on too long with this comment, I'll end with, I'd probably watch this one. :)

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  7. I do appreciate your in depth and heartfelt review of this movie. I feel I would like to watch it but perhaps not just yet as with memories of the deaths of people close to me I suspect I would find this too much. Certainly a movie you need to be in the right frame of mind to watch though it does sound insightful and handled well. Everyone grieves in their own way, in their own time and there is no time limit or correct way to grieve or to heal. In my experience you do not "get over it" but rather the loss and the grief is weaved into the fabric of your own life. I still greatly miss my loved ones who have passed.On a lighter note I have visited Alberta, Canada and Moose Mountain and it is so beautiful so I would love to see that stunning scenery. One movie I would like to add to my list to watch one day.

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