Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
The Loneliest Planet
A local guide takes a young couple through a twisted backpacking trip across the Georgian wilderness.
Nothing happens for an hour. Then one thing happens and someone makes a knee jerk reaction. Then one no one talks about either the thing that happened or the the reaction to what happened. Hard to say since no one's talking. Then nothing happens for another hour until there's an awkward moment. Then nothing happens at the end. I was riveted.
[reviewed from AFI 2011]
Second go. Feared I might find the first half a little get-to-the-Incident enervating this time, but Loktev has an uncanny knack—also on display in Day Night Day Night—for making the eventless eventful, mostly via attention to arresting details that are unusual without being "quirky." (I was about to note that the "chimpanzee" headstand arguably crosses that line, but then suddenly suspected that that's an actual alternative to e.g. "Mississippi" somewhere or other, and sure enough. Headstand itself's still a bit cute, though.) And I remain in awe of the high-wire act that constitutes the aftermath, in which any and all discussion of what happened gets postponed until after the credits roll—a stunt that only works…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
It wasn't until the closing credits that I had any idea this was based on a short story, but my response was "of course it was;" I could easily imagine this being a Raymond Carver creation. There's something fundamentally different about the way short stories deal with character-building and "incident," and Loktev has such an instinctive sense for conveying those differences. In any other version of this story, we're going to get plenty of early hints about his character that lead us like breadcrumbs to The Thing Alex Eventually Does, and we're certainly not going to learn more about the life and back-story of the supporting guide character than we do about either of our ostensible protagonists. But this isn't…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I prefer these kinds of movies with a little shorter running time but this is top notch minimalism. The director even found a way to self destruct a strong, loving relationship without any words. The hypnotic score and grandiose cinematography are definitely enough to overwhelm the viewer into a meditative state. It seemed like sort of a middle finger to the superficial feminism that gets spewed out by the lowest common denominator of Womyns' Studies majors. It follows the minimalist recipe but there is more than enough fresh ideas to chew on, especially the "turning point". I was always looking forward to seeing where the lead actress' red hair would take us next.
The Loneliest Planet is a film I really want to love. It's slow, and takes its time, and wants to reel you into the relationship between the main couple. However, The Loneliest Planet is also slow and takes too much time.
I really love when films take their time to show you things instead of rushing, but there is a difference between taking your time and meandering around in a vain attempt to stretch out the running time.
There's a real subtle beauty to the main theme of The Loneliest Planet, but it really doesn't need to be a 2 hour film. This would be fine at 80 minutes, and actually manage to make a harder impact. Gael Garcia Bernal…
Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet feels at times like a really interesting critique of the 'travel film' genre that's taken on a new life in the age of high-definition movies and television. She pulls her camera way, way back for huge views of the breathtaking scenery that seems to be almost omnipresent in the version of Georgia's Caucasus Mountains she is showing us. During these establishing shots we see our characters, a well-traveled couple (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) and their guide (Bidzina Gujabidze) as blips in the landscape, while transcendental music begins a slow climb towards some spiritual crescendo...
But Loktev invariably interrupts these moments of beauty mid-step, ripping us out of the music and returning us to…
Toll gefilmt, lässt den Zuschauer jeden Tritt mitgehen, jedoch recht langatmig.
The first hour is spent with people happily walking. Then... SOMETHING HAPPENS. And then the next hour is spent with people miserably walking. To break up the tedium the director uses some extremely long shots to show us how insignificant our players are in contrast with the epic scenery. This none-too-subtle technique is, at the very least, a wonderful depiction of the Caucasus Mountains. Like many films involving the weary doing a lot of traveling and not much else this is quite the travelogue. In terms of story and character it does nothing but beguile, struggling to do something with its American couple despite affording them several opportunities. They start, essentially, as generic Western tourists and end on a slightly…
- That Richard Skelton music in the long shots
- Gradually getting to know Dato, the guide
- Hani's introduction (first shot of the movie)
I've heard better renditions of Señor Don Gato, though.
Didn't see that one coming
This was such a chore to sit through. Nothing happens, just stale fucking dialogue and scenery.
This would be a phenomenal short film, but I'm not quite sure there's enough to hold on to for me for a feature. Gorgeous cinematography from Inti Briones helps, though, as does Julia Loktev's admitted knack for nonverbal storytelling. This is a beautiful film and Loktev did a great job at crafting the lead characters, but at first blush, I badly needed just a little bit more.
'The Loneliest Planet' is an experiment in expressing emotion over written dialogue. The film follows a young engaged couple Alex (Gael García Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) as they take a backpacking trip where one decision threatens the future of their relationship. Sort of a more concise 'Force Majeure' that doesn't flesh out the snap judgement made by Alex, and instead lets the viewer observe the change between them. The film excels in the second half, where the performances by the two leads really captures the remorse and revelations made by each of characters as they struggle to come to terms with what Alex did. However, since there's hardly any dialogue it's up to the viewer to decide what happens after the trip. The first half of the film juxtaposes the second but not enough really happens to make a statement.
I feel like the people behind Force Majeure watched this movie, thought "Wow they've got a really cool idea here," and then completely fleshed it out. The Loneliest Planet is too quiet and there's too much idle walking. Maybe watching it on a laptop scene made me biased, but it seemed like the film wanted us to feel like we were in the Georgian wilderness, but I didn't get too deeply into it.
This movie's opening is one of the most jarring "What the hell is going on?" scenes I can recall.
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