Land of Plenty (2004) has a lot going for it … It’s yet another amazingly delicious and humane film by the one and only Wim Wenders, the Jim Jarmoush of Germany.
Where to begin?…
First, the casting — right on the money!
We of course remember Michelle Williams as the distraught wife in the Brokeback Mountain. She was so genuine in that difficult role as the Midwest housewife caught up in a relationship that terrified her down to her marrow.
Here Williams plays a totally different character — the pure angel trying to do good. Williams and John Diehl as her uncle and misguided vigilante patriot are good to a fault. I know I’ll be looking to see their other work as well.
(And the fact that Williams is the most beautiful Dove-girl-next-door you’ll ever see does not hurt at all. Just look at that face…)
Then comes Wenders’s idiosyncratic take on the post 9-11 paranoia that we are all living on a daily basis… code orange… code red… those haunting images of airplanes loaded with passengers and jet fuel disappearing into skyscrapers… ahhh, it’s not easy to carry that sadness, that anger, that psychic burden with no closure in sight.
And we see that in Diehl’s character — an ex-Marine who decides to take things into his own hands and clean the homeland from all vermin, especially those that wear wrapped towels for headgear. Period.
But of course to have a heart full of love for the country, the flag, mom and the apple pie is not enough. This is a complicated world we are living in and things are hardly what they seem to be. Our ex-Marine finds it out the hard way…
The ending has some unnecessary lecturing and philosophizing but overall this is a good story, acted out and directed well. It approaches a very difficult subject through the imperfect filtering of two souls — one lost in the world, and the other in constant agony.
This is not a movie you’ll like if you are a sunshine happy person with no worries in life. You are warned.
However, if you like this one like I did, you might also want to check out two other fantastic Wenders films:
Wings of Desire and Don’t Come Knocking
Good art redeems our humanity. Land of Plenty does that with flying colors, without embarrassing itself.
Ugur Akinci is a writer with 20 years of experience. Visit his web site http://www.writer111.com for more information.