In the Land of Women
I should probably mention I’m allergic to grass.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/20/2007
Director: Jonathan Kasdan
Cast: Adam Brody, Meg Ryan, Kristen Stewart, Olympia Dukakis

I know what “In the Land of Women” looks like from the outside. It’s a predictable, cliché, unremarkable blip on the movie radar.

And I’m not saying it isn’t. But I liked it … I liked it a lot.

The film is about a struggling writer in Los Angeles who gets dumped by his actress girlfriend and escapes to Michigan to take care of his Grandmother and get away from his life.

Once he arrives in Michigan, he meets the family across the street who are going through problems of their own. He bonds with them in different ways and everyone takes their own personal journey as they get to know one another.

God, that sounds terrible. I should be ripping this film apart with my bare hands. But I can’t.

I’m a sucker for films about drowning in misery and suffering in pain. Not that this film lives up to the greats of its genre, like “Dr. Zhivago” or “Open Hearts”.

However, I think it’s like a primer for understanding those films – a starter kit for a melancholy perspective.

I doubt most people would want that in their lives and as such, I doubt any of you reading this would find any comfort or enjoyment with this film.

However, being the sad sack of me that I am, I love these kinds of movie experiences. Where else do you get two hours of sterile isolation and wallowing?

It’s like therapy but instead of paying a therapist and sitting on a couch, you buy a ticket and bring snacks.

I would like to give special credit to Kristen Stewart whose role is pivotal to making the entire film work and her performance is excellent.

She plays a teenage girl like a teenage girl … not some girl wise beyond her years … she makes mistakes and she doesn’t understand things … like every other teenager in the real world. It’s so refreshing to see what could have been a stereotypical character receive a dose of realism.

However, I did have issues with Adam Brody. His awkward style of acting didn’t always resonate as sincere but my own mind filled in the gaps as necessary and I don’t know how much it mattered who played his character.

Meg Ryan’s character was flawed and enchanting all at the same time. I think she needed more development in order to round out some of the rough edges. There were times when I thought maybe some scenes hit the cutting room floor because her mood swings were a bit too abrupt but Ryan pulled it off ably.

And Olympia Dukakis played the Grandmother just right. Any more over the top and it would have detracted from the film’s tone … any less and it would have lost its place within the context of the film.

“In the Land of Women” doesn’t break any new ground and it isn’t going to get any awards. The entire production, from direction to script to acting, is average.

The sum of those parts though is something a bit more and if you’re not ready for something more challenging like “After the Wedding” and you’d like to be, I think this film is worth a shot.

Overall, I’m going to give “In the Land of Women” a 3 out of 5. If you watch the trailer and think, “Oh, hell no.”, then you won’t like this film. But if a part of you thinks a little escapist journey out of your life is needed right now, I think you’ll find something here for you to think about.

I wouldn’t defend this film as great cinema but I’m going to grab the DVD and a pint of ice cream eventually and take a break from real life once I can. I think all of us need that every now and then.