Lonliest Planet too Boring to Be Gorgeous

The Loneliest Planet (2011/12)
Directed by Julia Loketv
IFC Films, 113 mins. Not rated. In English and Georgian.

This independent film did a scant $128,519 at the box office, but was such a sensation at film festivals that Sundance Select decided to distribute it. Reconsideration is definitely in order.

The film putatively follows an engaged couple–Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg)–on a high-adventure backpacking trip across the Caucus Mountains of Georgia. Since neither speaks more than a few words of Georgian, they hire Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze) to guide them. That’s pretty much it. Along the way, Alex screws up by reacting cowardly when a group of mountain locals confront the trio. We think he’s feeling inadequate and unmanly, but given that Bernal only says a few dozen words in the entire movie, it’s hard to know. We also get Dato’s confession of a failed marriage and brief bonding between him and Nica, but very little happens, even less is revealed, and nothing at all is resolved.

So what did festival juries see in this film? Surely not fine acting. Bernal is quickly establishing himself as a one-dimensional bore on the screen who specializes in puppy dog eyes and hangdog expressions, but is incapable of much else. T’is time for him either to stretch or find other employment. It’s hard to say much about Furstenberg, as she’s nearly as silent as Bernal. We first meet her as a soggy nude jumping up and down in the shower. We don’t know why she’s doing that, we don’t find out why, and we never discover much of anything else about her except that she travels a lot and is trying to learn Spanish–perhaps to coax a monosyllabic word from her fiancĂ©. There’s really not much one can say about the film’s script, except that it might have been a good idea to have one. Nor can one commend Lektev’s static direction, which runs the A to B gamut from close-up to long short.  

What is good is the setting. We see the Caucus Mountains in all its guises–rolling pasturelands, cliffs of loose scree, gently folded mounds, sweeping hill-and-valley vistas, easy strolls, and high-elevation oxygen depleting scrambles. It’s also beautiful to see the sunlight streaming through Furstenberg’s fiery red mane. But this isn’t enough and it’s hard to imagine why Sundance decided to promote a film that has bombed with audiences. If you want to see the Caucasians of Georgia, National Geographic is a much better idea. Flipping the pages will provide more movement than you’ll see in this film.

Rob Weir 


Anonymous said...

This was shown @ the LFF in 2011 and no-one has picked it up for release here as far as I can tell. It does look interesting from the details online though.

Anonymous said...

I recommend you read the details, check out Georgia on Google images, and skip the film!