Film

“No Light and No Land Anywhere” Tests How Detached a Film About Feeling Detached Should Be

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A woman washes her hands, then slowly, deliberately drops her wedding ring down the drain of the sink. Her iPhone screen shows several “Fuck you” texts from her ex, David. In the next scene, she’s inhaling several bags of chips and chocolate bars and, between gasping breaths, slamming a can of Coca-Cola. It can’t be any less subtle than this: No Light and No Land Anywhere, directed by Amber Sealey and executive-produced by Miranda July, is woman-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown cinema.

After the death of her mother, Lexi (Gemma Brockis) escapes her deteriorating marriage in London and flies to Los Angeles to track down her long-lost father. She displays troubling behavior, like bringing back two strange men to her motel room and engaging in emotionally detached sexual activities, or lurking outside her half-sister’s house, where her father’s second wife lies dying. Though she had hoped for a relationship with her father, Lexi ends up unexpectedly befriending his new wife instead.

There are some nicely shot moments throughout, but they feel empty — slow montages that mostly just fill out the film’s thin plot and already slim runtime. Most of Sealey’s dialogue was improvised, but it lacks much natural, unscripted charm. Especially disquieting are the few asides in which Lexi’s body parts are filmed extremely up close against a stark white background as she reminisces about David in voiceover. As she whispers details like, “I was looking for someone who wouldn’t just come on my face,” the film feels like an unnerving ASMR video.

No Light and No Land Anywhere
Written and directed by Amber Sealey
Factory 25
Opens March 16, IFC Center

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