The Loneliest Planet

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Julia Loktev
  • Cast:Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg
  • Release Date:March 21, 2013
  • Distributor:Palace
  • Running time:113 minutes
  • Film Worth:$17.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

An elusive but haunting portrait of the trust and expectations that underpin relationships, and how they can so easily unravel.

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At about exactly the mid-point of Russian-American director, Julia Loktev’s haunting feature, The Loneliest Planet, an incident happens that turns this movie completely on its head. It plays out over the briefest couple of seconds, but the power of this occurrence – which would be diminished if it were to be revealed – changes everything. It transforms the characters’ understanding of who they are, and who they thought the other was, and places a seemingly unshakeable relationship on the rockiest of grounds.

Based on Tom Bissell’s evocative short story, The Loneliest Planet follows a happy and seemingly carefree couple, Alex and Nica (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg are both superb), who embark on a backpacking adventure through The Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, with only a mysterious guide (Bidzina Gujabidze) for company. The idyllic trip, however, is shattered by a sudden encounter with a couple of strangers, and it’s this moment that proves the turning point.

What makes the aftermath of this incident so stunning is that it’s never discussed. Loktev is much more subtle than that, and we’re left to watch as apologies and accusations play out via smaller gestures, like the sharing of snacks and the quiet dispute over who should cross a river first. The film is deliberately elusive in many ways, and may test the patience of certain viewers, with Loktev using long, silent stretches – against spacious wilderness – to speak volumes. But simmering just beneath its quiet, beautiful surface are endless questions to do with relationships and trust, and how they’re tied to our expectations regarding masculinity. They’re notions that we, like Alex and Nica, may think that we’re above, until we’re confronted with them in moments that define us.    

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