For myriad reasons, I was having a crummy week. Fortunately, Land Ho!–written and directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz–was just the pick-me-up I needed.
Whilst catching up one day, Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson), a former surgeon with a raunchy streak, tells his taciturn ex-brother-in-law, Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), a former bank manager, that he’s bought them two tickets to Iceland. Reluctant to join Mitch at first, Colin eventually acquiesces and the adorable odd couple traverse the majestic land of Iceland.
And did I mention that they’re both senior citizens?
Despite the fact that they’re no longer linked by a marriage, Mitch and Colin’s friendship remains. Think about that for a moment: the friendship these two forged was longer-lasting than a marriage, the supposed end-all, be-all of relationships. Speaking personally, I’ve had male friendships last much, much longer than my romantic relationships. Oftentimes I’d much rather be bro-ing it out with my bros than listening to a girl continually ask me if it’s cold outside or watching her obsessively pin things on Pinterest (this sentence brought to you by Iliza Schlesinger).
Even at their age, Mitch and Colin still wonder about what they’re going to do with their lives. Maybe that’s why I felt a connection to this movie. Hearing them talk about life was much more relatable than when, say, Lena Dunham complains about life. It comes across as much less whiny, to be sure. It got me thinking about life and its cyclic nature. The problems of life don’t subscribe to things like age restrictions.
Whoa, this just got way too serious. Let’s get back to what I liked about this film.
Like when I saw Ant-Man, I had a grin on my face for nearly every frame of film. At one point a fellow traveler is taking their picture in a hot spring and she remarks that the two friends make the picture. That’s true of the film as a whole. I loved the friendship between Mitch and Colin and I could totally see myself and a few of my guy friends embarking on a similar journey in half a century. Mitch came across as a bit too vulgar at times, but I feel like anyone in their sixties has earned the right to say whatever he wants. In fact, part of the humor is when Mitch and Colin act like teenagers—Mitch loves seeing girls in leggings. I don’t think I would have liked it nearly as much if the two leads were younger millennials. Seeing them dancing on the beaches of Iceland to the film’s title song was both surreal and oddly comforting.
And speaking of the soundtrack, it sounds like it stepped right out of the 80s (which was no accident). The synth-heavy songs, along with Keegan DeWitt’s dreamy score and the breathtakingly gorgeous scenery give the film an almost-ethereal quality. It’s basically a travelogue for Iceland. In fact, when the film ended I immediately placed a reserve for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, also filmed in the Nordic island nation (and one of my faves). I’ll have to live vicariously through film until I can visit the land of unpronounceable names. Seriously, Grundarfjörður? Reyðarfjörður? Kirkjubæjarklaustur?! How did they come up with these names?
So what didn’t I like?
Land Ho! is definitely in the mumblecore genre and the one problem I always have with such films is that I’ve never seen one with a satisfying ending (except for Frances Ha). I guess I was hoping for a more definite ending because these men are, for all intents and purposes, nearing the end of their lives. I suppose ignoring their ages and just telling the story is in keeping with the rest of the film, but to the mumblecore filmmakers I ask, is it too much to ask to just pick an ending?
If you don’t like mumblecore, or quiet character-driven films, then this probably isn’t for you. If you don’t think two sexagenarians road-tripping around Iceland is a realistic depiction of seniors, I defer to the epic bromance of Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here passing a few languid hours with this light, airy film. I forgot about my crummy week and felt happy while I watched it. What more can you ask for from a film?
Do you have a favorite bromance, fictional or otherwise? Have you ever been to Iceland? Let us know in the comments below!