Film Review “Land Ho!”

LandHo-PosterFinalStarring: Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn
Directed by: Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 35 mins
Sony Pictures Classics

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Even with Iceland as the setting for this story, the new film “Land Ho!” is full of warmth. I really, really liked this movie. It harbors the true spirit of independent filmmaking, looking as if the directors just grabbed a camera, a sound person, flew to Iceland and had two extremely sweet and personable guys interact with each other. The actors and the landscape do all the work here, because when you examine the film you’ll find that there is almost no story whatsoever. And I was okay with that.

Colin (Eenhoorn) and Mitch (Nelson) are two former brothers-in-law, having once been married to a couple of sisters. Colin is an Australian while Mitch is an American hailing from Louisiana. Both are recently retired, and Colin is again recently divorced. On a whim, and as an escape for Colin, Mitch books them tickets to go to Iceland and travel around. And that’s all there is to it.

Mitch, a garrulous and big bear-of-a-man, was once a physician. The more reserved and shy Colin had, in another life, been a talented French horn player turned bank branch manager. Although their backstories have definitely molded them into the men they are today, their history doesn’t play too much into their present. The film is really a road movie at heart. We watch as Mitch and Colin travel to various tourist spots in Iceland and interact with other travelers, natives and, most importantly, each other. The two men seem to enjoy one another’s company, yet come across as complete opposites. It’s almost an Icelandic version of Neil Simon’s “Odd Couple,” though here both men are well-dressed and clean. It’s just Mitch’s vernacular that tends to be a bit dirty.

There are hints of the old versus the new in this story; but that theme doesn’t seem to be of too much importance. Mitch and Colin are of a different generation, but they discuss Facebook and aren’t neophytes when it comes to technology and change. “Land Ho!” is nothing more than a series of scenes or vignettes. There is no overall story. It’s just two men sharing an adventure together, letting loose and feeling free for what could possibly be the first time in a while.

Having never seen either of the two main actors in anything before I can’t tell you how their performances were in comparison to anything else. But I can tell you that they are very naturalistic. Very rarely did anything either one of them say come off as scripted or pre-planned. It all seemed spontaneous and real. Earl Lynn Nelson is likeable from the start. He knows who he is, and he owns any room he walks into; but not in a self-important way. Eenhoorn is a bit more relaxed and laidback, but still a tad shy. You don’t warm to him as fast as you do to Mitch, but within fifteen minutes you love both of these men and enjoy watching them wander around.

The Icelandic scenery is splendid to watch. If you filmed this movie in any other place, I honestly feel it would have lost its appeal. If this story was about two men driving around America and stopping off at the Grand Canyon, I don’t think I’d write such a glowing review. I just love the look of Iceland. The directing is minimal, and I mean that in a good way. The directors new that the landscapes of Iceland and the warmth of the characters would carry the story to where it needed to go. For what I presume was a relatively low-budget production I think it was beautifully shot; although there are a few shots that were straight out of film school and they come across as almost too artsy for this film.

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