A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Land is a quiet character study about grief, trauma, and isolation. Directed by and starring Robin Wright, it follows Edee (Wright), a melancholy lawyer who nearly dies while attempting to live off the grid. For reasons that are slowly explained in flashbacks, she doesn't seem all that interested in living, period. This is a sad, occasionally heartbreaking drama about resilience and connection in the face of seemingly insurmountable loneliness. There's a frightening bear attack, as well as scenes of game hunting (including a brief moment when two characters skin a buck). In one scene, Edee puts a gun to her chin, but she doesn't shoot. Conversations include references to violence and deaths, as well as suicidal ideation. Scenes of Edee being nursed back to health after suffering from hypothermia and starvation include nonsexual partial nudity; in another scene, she's briefly shown in the bath. Edee's connection with a local hunter named Miguel (Demián Bichir) borders on the romantic, but the movie's only love scene is shown in a flashback of Edee's memories. Language is infrequent and mild ("oh my God," "damn," "hell").
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What's the story?
In actor Robin Wright's directorial debut, LAND, she plays Edee, a troubled lawyer who seeks isolation in a remote cabin where she seems intent on total self-sufficiency but instead nearly dies of starvation. Flashbacks make it clear that Edee has survived some form of tragedy that has left her devastated and nearly suicidal. She tells no one of her trip and dismisses advice from a local to keep a car with her. Roughing it goes OK for a while, until nature strikes a cruel blow. On the verge of perishing, Edee is discovered by kind hunter Miguel (Demián Bichir), who summons his friend Alawa (Sarah Dawn Pledge), a nurse, to help save her. Alawa charges Miguel with looking after Edee, and they soon strike a bargain: He (and his faithful dog) will teach her how to hunt and then leave her be, no questions asked. Slowly and steadily, hunting, eating, and being with Miguel becomes a routine that pulls Edee out of her grief and despair.
Is it any good?
This quiet, surprisingly impactful drama is lovingly performed and directed by the talented Wright. If Nomadland is about a middle-aged woman's search for freedom on the road, Land is about a middle-aged woman's search for freedom of the soul. Both films star extraordinary actresses (Frances McDormand and Wright, respectively) and outstanding supporting actors (David Strathairn and Bichir) and are directed by women (Chloe Zhao and Wright). But whereas Zhao and McDormand tell an ultimately hopeful, happy tale about people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s dropping out of traditional 9-to-5 society to form their own nomadic hobo culture, Wright's story is a heartbreaking exploration of grief and stillness.
Another commonality with Nomadland is Land's kinship to Into the Wild, but for a different, and sadder, reason. Edee's time in the cabin is reminiscent of Christopher McCandless' time in the bus. They both think they know what they're doing, but nature can be cruel, forbidding, and dangerous. Once he's (literally) in the picture, Miguel infuses a gentle warmth and humor to his interactions with Edee. He never pushes her to reveal her secrets and is content to be in the present, whether it's teaching her how to quietly stalk a deer or humming and singing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." This isn't just one quick sing-a-long of Tears for Fears' '80s hit; he continues to sing it in several scenes, and it becomes a heartwarming anthem for the two characters, even if their singing is out of tune. Edee and Miguel's slow-burning connection brims with romantic possibility, but their bond is so transformative that it doesn't need a label to be powerful -- much like the movie itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Land's portrayal of grief and mental health. How does surviving trauma impact Edee? When does grief turn into more than situational depression or even suicidal ideation? How does she get help?
How does the movie depict the way a song can bring people together? What else draws Edee to Miguel? Would you consider the movie a love story of sorts?
Despite everyone's fierce independence, how do the characters help and support one another?
- In theaters: February 12, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2021
- Cast: Robin Wright, Demian Bichir, Kim Dickens
- Director: Robin Wright
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Compassion, Perseverance
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic content, brief strong language, and partial nudity
- Last updated: February 25, 2021
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