Film Review: The Land of Owls

STUDIO: First Run Features | DIRECTOR: Patrick Letterii | CAST: Ricardo Dávila, Blake DeLong, Emma Duncan, Emma Lahti, Ronald Peet
SPECS: NR | 79 min. | Drama romance

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie

The Land of Owls follows a pair of young unnamed Brooklyn couples—one straight (Emma Duncan of TV’s Chicago Med and David Rhysdal of That’s Not Us), one gay (Ricardo Davila of TV’s Dietland and Ronald Peet of Tower of Silence)—who head to a secluded Catskill Mountains retreat to work through their relationship issues. Upon arrival, they are asked to jointly remove their clothing and replace them with matching all white outfits and partake in a series of talk therapy and outdoor yoga sessions. (When someone connected to the retreat center arrives and queries, “Does anyone stand out?,” you begin to wonder if they have some cultish tendencies.) As the days go by, the four are pushed out of their comfort zones and are forced to examine their wants and needs in an effort to rebuild their partnerships–or leave them behind.

First time feature film director-writer by Patrick Letterii capably sets an idyllic scene, with lovely shots of outdoor scenery infused with a folky, melodic score. He smartly forgoes the typical over-the-top shouting matches seen in most therapy scenes and instead creates a deliberately measured and thoughtful pace that evokes the seriousness of what each couple is attempting to achieve. This approach works and the camera’s framing during the intense sessions makes you feel like you are in the room and awkwardly ease dropping.

The only problem is that the couples aren’t very interesting. In a film that is all about exploring personal connections, The Land of Owls‘ main flaw is not providing enough context to the characters and their relationships for the audience to latch onto. Without any investment in their outcome, there is little drama to me mined.

The Land of Owls doesn’t make any provocative statements or revelations about relationships or the therapy process. And without an intrinsic connection to any of the characters, one is left wondering what the overall point was.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at