"The Unknown Country" will be shown at the Salina Art Center Cinema from Sept. 22-27.
Lily Gladstone got her breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon, and in director Morrisa Maltz’s debut feature The Unknown Country, the actress solidifies her place as one of today’s most compelling American stars.
It’s impossible to take your eyes off her. Many actors play characters who are stoic, reserved, serene; none are better than Gladstone at making viewers deeply invested in discovering what she’s thinking behind that quiet exterior. Her performance is the linchpin of Maltz’s film, an existential road trip of the kind that male actors often took in ‘70’s cinema.
We don’t know why Tana (Gladstone) is leaving Minnesota, alone, at the start of the film. Is she running from something? Seeking something? Maybe it’s simply to lose herself in the land, as stunningly photographed as it is by cinematographer Andrew Hajek. T
ana doesn’t remain alone, however; on her cross-country journey she meets several interesting individuals, and the subtle pleasure of the film is how everyone gets a unique, complex inner life that “secondary” characters are never granted. It’s as if Maltz and Gladstone (who co-wrote the film) are telling us that no one is one-dimensional; everyone has a story worth hearing.
Tana’s odyssey is slightly surreal at time but never fantastical—which is crucial because Gladstone, a Native American actress, and Tana, a Native American protagonist, could’ve been treated as “exotic” curiosities rather than allowed to be people first.
Human connections bridge great physical and cultural distances, and this poetic, gentle film proves this uplifting truth with effortless grace and quiet eloquence.
Unrated; contains some mature content
For tickets and more information about the Salina Art Center Cinema click here.