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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Robin Wright
scr Jesse Chatham, Erin Dignam
prd Allyn Stewart, Lora Kennedy, Leah Holzer, Peter Saraf
with Robin Wright, Demian Bichir, Kim Dickens, Brad Leland, Sarah Dawn Pledge, Warren Christie, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Jordan Bullchild, David Trimble, Rikki-Lynn Ward, Mia McDonald, Barb Mitchell
release US 12.Feb.21,
21/US Focus 1h29
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
Is it streaming?
With a spectacular mountain setting and a committed central performance, this film remains watchable even if it's underpowered. Actor-director Robin Wright skilfully tells the story, but never evokes subtext that might pull the audience in deeper. And the script doesn't really help, keeping emotions on the surface. But the film has a lovely openness to it, and a willingness to explore tricky topics like mortality and everyday motivation.
Struggling with grief, Chicago lawyer Edee (Wright) can't understand why she should share her feelings. So she packs up her belongings and heads to a rustic cabin in the Wyoming wilderness. Cut off from the world, she enjoys her solitude and intrepidly faces threatening wildlife and winter weather. But having no escape plan becomes seriously perilous, and she's rescued by local hunter Miguel (Bichir) and his nurse friend Alawa (Pledge). When Edee asks him to leave, he first teaches her how to hunt and trap. And she becomes more connected to him than she expects.
It's beautiful to watch Edee adapt to off-the-grid life while constantly thinking about the husband and young son (Christie and Wojtak-Hissong) she lost. They appear in sensitive imagery, while flashbacks explore her relationship with her worried sister (Dickens). More interesting is the idea that Edee has subconsciously decided to let nature take her. Although the pointed script never really considers this. The generous, kind Miguel simply isn't willing to let Edee waste away.
Even in her silence, Wright makes Edee intriguing, although the script's lack of detail keeps her from being very engaging. Key information is withheld until later, echoing Edee's inability to face facts, but this holds the audience at arm's length, watching her rather than experiencing these things with her. Bichir injects earthy humour into his scenes with Wright, adding a hint of nuance to the film's themes as these two loners quietly enjoy sharing stories and singing around the campfire.
The film's gentle tone is consistently warm, finding natural rhythms in the interaction between characters. And there's a hint of suspense as we wait for Edee to open up about herself, with visual clues about how that's going in a wall collage that leads to the quietly powerful moment when she can put her grief into words. But mainly this film makes us long for a bit of alone time, getting back to nature on a mountain with gorgeous views. Although perhaps not during the winter, and definitely not without wifi.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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