Freeland is about Devi (Krisha Fairchild), an aging pot farmer who finds her way of life at an end when marijuana legalization means she can no longer deal the product created in her quiet Northern California commune. It’s an aching movie about losing everything quietly while the rest of the world moves on mercilessly, about finding yourself alone in the place you feel most at home.
Legalization means paperwork, regulation and legitimacy. It also means consequences when those strictures aren’t followed. Freeland isn’t concerned with the broader issue, only with how it impacts Devi. Her networks of customers migrate away. Old friends like Ray (John Craven), a fellow grower, close up shop while others go legit and no longer engage with her. Devi’s business has always attracted stray young people with strong ideals and difficult histories, who are paid with the proceeds from sales throughout the season. Those colleagues are winnowed down to three, who quickly become harder to manage when the money dries up. Becoming legal is more about growing a good bud, and Devi isn’t ready for it.
Truthfully that’s the gist of Freeland, available on VOD services beginning Friday. Writing-directing duo Kate McLean and Mario Furloni see the potential in Devi’s predicament and don’t doll it up in extraneous plot machinations or drama. She’s betrayed by the world around her, knows it’s happening and tries her damnedest to hold onto some semblance of the life she’s led for decades. There’s slow, true tragedy in the offing, aided by a score by William Ryan Fritch and Furloni’s cinematography that emphasizes the vastness and beauty of Devi’s rural home. Freeland is compelling, emotional viewing.