Filmmakers Mario Furloni and Kate McLean have been sharing writing and directorial efforts since 2011, the year they released the short documentary Pot Country. Ten years after, inspired by that short, they expand the idea into a fictional feature film – their debut – which stars Krisha Fairchild as an aging weed farmer from Humboldt Country, California, who sees her work and daily bread threatened by progress.
Devi (Fairchild) has been in the business for 32 years with no major problems, but from the moment that a nuisance abatement notice was issued by the local authorities, the open air of the surroundings gradually becomes oppressive and Devi’s life goes from sunny to intolerably burdensome. The legalization of cannabis farms is an extremely expensive process with no guarantee of approval. In a minute, Devi’s sales end abruptly, her name is on the newspaper as an illegal dealer and the money dissipates quickly.
She’s forced to renegotiate with the three employees hired for the ongoing harvesting season – college student Mara (Lily Gladstone), the cunning Josh (Frank Mosley), and the low-keyed Casey (Cameron James Matthews) – and nostalgically bids farewell to Ray (John Craven), a long-time partner from the times she belonged to a hippie commune.
Skillfully shot (kudos for Furloni’s cinematography), Freeland is lyrically scenic, handling the subject with a muffled cry of despair and a raw, natural methodology that recalls Kelly Reichardt’s filmmaking style. This is a totally convincing ride in which the magnetic performance by Fairchild doesn’t need words to convey what’s in her mind and chest. You feel it just by looking at her.
The film’s patient progress is driven and tensed, and seeing those solitary roads wiggling through the woods at the sound of William Ryan Fritch’s apt score, only increases one sense of loneliness and despair. It’s painful what we see; memories of a happy past, the acute awareness of a dark present and the fear of an unknown future.
Director: Mario Furloni, Kate McLean
Stars: Krisha Faitchild, Lily Gladstone, Frank Mosley, John Craven
Runtime: 100 minutes