3.5 out of 5 stars
There is nothing like the forces of nature to humble the human soul. Many people have ventured into the wilderness to find themselves or run away from the realities of life. Then discovering that the natural elements can be a brutal teacher and may even prove to be deadly. Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049, House of Cards) stars in and has her directorial debut with an exceptionally personal journey of escapism sought by her alter ego, Edee.
Despite living a sheltered city lifestyle, she faces an incomprehensible family tragedy and decides she must get away from society. In her grief, Edee chooses to purchase a cabin in the Rockies of Wyoming, throws away her phone and attempts to make her way in the wilderness. Even though she has no experience living off the land, she naively thinks that making her way can be learned from books and with no human contact. Until the weather and the wildlife show her she may have chosen the wrong method of confronting her grief.
As she comes to the end of herself and the provisions, all looks bleak until Miguel (Demián Bichir) walks through the cabin door. The outdoorsman does all he can to respect Edee’s need for privacy, but strives to help her to learn to live off the land. While he shows her how to trap, hunt and make a life for herself in her mountain home, the two develop a galvanized friendship by their tragic pasts. As each day passes, Edee becomes more independent. Still, with this freedom, she begins to see the value of reconnecting with humanity.
One of the best aspects of this script is that there is more said when no one speaks than when the dialogue commences. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, Wright shows the majesty of the landscape while displaying the depth of the human spirit. The story arch of her character travels through an intense level of learning about herself and survival in a short period of time in this unforgiving atmosphere. Understandably, the central character begins as tragic and self-isolating while discovering what she needs to do to rediscover her new post-calamity identity.
Some may criticise the pacing and the overall tone of Wright’s film. Yet, like the river that runs through the story, these elements sweep the audience into the tale of self-discovery. The constancy of nature is an essential part of the story, but the focus has to come back to the two lead characters. This relationship drives the story forward even though their conversations are separated by moments of introspection and healing. While the whole time, the wilderness helps to express where the arch of the story is moving. This shows Robin Wright is a force in front of and behind the camera with a commendable initial directorial venture.
Reel Dialogue: ‘You were in my path’
When Miguel was asked why he chose to help Edee, he went on to say, ‘You were in my path.’ A beautiful expression of how humanity can respond to those who require help in our lives. He was not merely being dismissive or even feeling obliged to serve her. Her saviour sees that she had a need, and he was the right person at the right time to fulfill this aspect of her life.
Even though there was no expression of faith in this film, the outdoorsman’s simple answer was something that every Christian should consider. Where he may have dismissed his philanthropic opportunity as mere chance, the Bible would say that this was providential. Many times God puts people into our path for the benefit of all involved. The challenge for us all is whether we are willing to help those in our lives who need it most and are we willing to accept this support when it is offered?
‘In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35