In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb mv5bmtg2njmzmdaxml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdkxoty0mzi . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 676 1000 al

78/52

Testament to the power and mastery of a movie that, nearly 60 years on, still feels as modern, complex and cutting-edge as any film released…

Thumb tbrzhlne8dnplllwee9bwdgnzle

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

A timely affirmation of feminine power—of the ways in which female wisdom and strength can charge hearts and minds, influence culture and inspire others to…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

The Loneliest Planet

The Loneliest Planet Movie Review
  |  

In "The Loneliest Planet," an engaged couple takes a backpacking hike over the beautiful but rugged trails of the Caucasus Mountains in the central European republic of Georgia. Midway on their trek, I was reminded of advice I once heard: "Never marry anyone without first taking a three-day bus trip with them."

Not much was clear to me about Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg): not where they're from, or how they met, or what paths they're taking in life, or even why they decided to make this hike. It's not a dangerous mountain adventure, more of a long slog, which seems all the longer to us because the writer-director, Julia Loktev, likes to pull back for a long shot and simply watch them plodding for long periods.

Advertisement

They've hired a local named Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze) to guide them. English is the only language they have in common, although Alex and Nica speak it with different accents, and Dato speaks it hardly at all. They hired Dato in a village near the start of their walk, after enduring one of those vaguely ominous evenings in a tavern where the visiting foreigners attract a lot of scrutiny. A bearded local guy looms over Nica and asks her to dance, and the other bearded local guys study Alex to see how he feels about this. Alex smiles like a good sport, although that isn't how he's feeling at the moment.

On the trail, things seem idyllic for a while, as the couple chatter and flirt. Nica, somewhat younger than Alex, has one of those Michelle Williams faces that projects niceness and vulnerability. What does Dato see, and what does he think of it? Two men and a woman, miles from anywhere. Will it all come down to that?

Dato tries to be friendly, making unintelligible small talk so murky that while listening even we smile as if trying to be good sports. There is an extremely alarming encounter with a group of heavily armed people, perhaps members of an outlawed political group, that finally ends with the most ominous member relaxing and hugging Alex, as if forgiving him for being himself.

Other events unfold, perhaps unremarkable in themselves, but accumulating into psychic baggage they must add to their backpacks. None of this is punched up dramatically; Loktev's favorite visual is the long shot; she likes indistinct night scenes and often arranges the characters in widely spaced groupings. We understand things are happening under the surface.

All of this grows tiresome. We're given no particular reason at the outset of "The Loneliest Planet" to care about these people, our interest doesn't grow along the way, the landscape grows repetitive, the director's approach is aggressively minimalist, and if you ask me, this romance was not made in heaven.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus