Tag Archives: Robin Wright

Forest for the Trees


by George Wolf

After directing one short film and ten episodes of her House of Cards TV series, Robin Wright makes an assured feature debut with Land, mining one shattered life for graceful insight into healing.

Wright also delivers a touching and understated performance as Edee, a woman who clings to grief as her closest connection to the husband and child she has lost, and who can no longer bear any expectations that she will “get better.”

Moving alone to a remote cabin in the Wyoming wilderness, Edee ignores advice to at least keep a vehicle at her disposal and settles in, wanting nothing else to do with anything or anyone.

No surprise, but Wyoming winters are harsh for the inexperienced. Eventually, it is only the aid of a passing hunter named Miguel (Demián Bichir, also terrific) that saves Edee’s life.

Miguel is carrying emotional scars as well, and the two strike a deal. He will teach her the survival skills she needs, and when the lessons are done, she will never see him again.

The screenplay from Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam may not blaze any thematic trails, but it does resist following the roads most expected. Of course Edee begins to feel a human connection again, but this point isn’t exploited for a cheap and easy narrative out.

The performances from Wright and Bichir make you care about pain even when you haven’t glimpsed it, giving director Wright a solid emotional base to lean on while deftly unveiling the different lives Edee and Miguel used to lead.

Edee’s memories of her family are brought to the screen with a tenderness from Wright that is both touching and well-played. Woven through the beautifully framed and intimidating Wyoming landscapes are wonderful sketches of visual storytelling.

Yes, we’ve heard Land‘s lessons before, but Wright’s feature debut behind the camera impresses through her fine instincts for subtle over showy, paring those lessons down to an essence as timeless as the majestic skyline.

Big, Messy Ideas


The Congress

by George Wolf


Tired of the same old girl meets boy stories? How about girl meets a digital version of herself, loses many years in a cryogenic state, and then travels between realities in an effort to reconnect with her son?

Welcome to The Congress, a flawed but often fascinating work inspired by the 1971 novel The Futurological Congress, Stanislaw Lem’s darkly comic allegory of life under communist rule.

Writer/director Ari Folman (the Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir) sets his sights on the Hollywood regime, where veteran actress Robin Wright, playing a fictionalized version of herself, has reached a critical point in her career.

She’s years removed from being America’s sweetheart, she’s been branded as “difficult,” and she’s on the wrong side of forty. But now, there’s a curious career opportunity…

After much soul-searching and a big paycheck, she agrees to let the film studio create a digital copy of herself. Once completed, the new Robin will have a busy career doing, in the words of the studio boss (Danny Huston), “all the things your Robin Wright won’t do” while the old Robin never acts again.

The ironic part is that the real Robin’s acting has never been better, and her touching performance anchors the film even when it threatens to skid completely off the rails.

Folman has big, ambitious, eccentric ideas, but things get a bit messy once the film makes the shift to animation. Unlike Bashir, where clashing styles of animation only accentuated the different memories of war, the animated portion of The Congress sometimes struggles to find a tone worthy of the strong live action opening.

It becomes a mix of Heavy Metal, Pink Floyd The Wall and Cool World, leaving some interesting issues hanging as dots that are never fully connected. Folman -who has said he got his first inspiration for the project in film school-seems so invested in the overall concept that he can’t resist the urge to explore every idea, no matter how tenuous.

Good thing, then, that Folman’s explorations are more interesting than most, leaving The Congress as a visionary, frustrating, extraordinary head trip.