How far is too far? That is the question No Promised Land seeks to answer in all its dread-soaked bleakness. Colin Bressler’s feature film is dark, sometimes relentlessly so, as it shifts along timelines, following its characters as they pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Grief-stricken after her secretive affair falls apart with a wealthy man (John Hall) several years her senior, a young mother (Destiny Soria) leaves no stone unturned in trying to make a better future for herself and her son. Through a number of flashbacks, the film untangles the complex web of despair surrounding the unfortunate woman. Her son, a product of the affair, is clearly her only drive left for survival after what seemed like a perfect life was shattered many years ago.
The present finds the pair being driven down country roads by an unnamed chauffeur (Jennifer Ugochukwu), with the tension clearly palpable within the vehicle. Something just isn’t right, and it’s this unease between the passengers and the driver that Bressler explores in the film.
The flashbacks are spliced into the main storyline at random increments, creating a fittingly disjointed narrative for the viewer to piece together. This dark puzzle doesn’t necessarily elevate the plot, though; in fact, the editing can feel rather lackluster at times because of it. Certain key questions regarding the characters past definitely remain unanswered in the grand scheme of things as well. Holding it back to a lesser extent is the overwhelming level of misery on screen, with very little counterbalance done to break the cycle.
Despite her character not being given a name, Soria definitely makes a lasting impression in her role. Her character possesses a quiet ferocity that meets uncertainty with seemingly unflinching determination, all in the name of a greater cause. Soria channels this mentality spotlessly and is, without a doubt, the biggest asset to the story in that regard. Jennifer Ugochukwu also holds her own in an understated role that finds her being the voice of reason, with a major twist adding more weight to her character.
No Promised Land is a hard-hitting tale of what a mother’s love is truly capable of, taking its audience on a somber road trip where a happy ending – may or may not be – part of the equation for those involved.