Land Ho!

The low-key action of Land Ho! involves hanging out with a pair of silver-haired former brothers-in-law who, having drifted apart in the wake of divorce and widowerhood, find themselves on an impromptu holiday together in Iceland. One’s a feisty southerner (Earl Lynn Nelson), the other a taciturn Australian (Paul Eenhoorn), and their dynamic is familiar, but thankfully more so from life than from movies. A credit to writer-directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, this gently invigorating meditation on mortality and companionship is a movie whose essence is meandering, yet it moves very briskly from scene to scene. That’s a shrewd rhythmic balance, wholly organic to the characters’ cognizance of having more life behind them than ahead. Nelson is Stephens’ cousin, and this is the second film of hers that he’s been in. It’s easy to see why; he’s a great find, eccentric in a camera-ready way without being artificial. As his straight man, Eenhoorn seems perfectly cast and entirely without vanity. Iceland, too, is a character here, the duo’s otherworldly third musketeer, and Katz and Stephens gamely prowl its landscape for the occasional treasure of a stunning image. Most importantly, though, the filmmakers don’t presume to reinvent the recognizably shopworn two-guys-on a-trip scenario. Instead they simply relax into it, as one might gradually and gratefully lower oneself into an arctic hot spring.