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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_yrupbychmjnvqi8j9jv2lj3pddx

Hateship Loveship

Kristen Wiig's lived-in and alive performance grounds this fantastic drama based on an Alice Munro short story.

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…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Blog Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel 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.

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.

Popular Blog Posts

Hashtag Activism and the #CancelColbert campaign

The recent #CancelColbert campaign on Twitter raises all kinds of issues about racism, but also about hashtag activism.

Able-Bodied Actors and Disability Drag: Why Disabled Roles are Only for Disabled Performers

Scott Jordan Harris argues that disabled characters should not be played by able-bodied actors.

For the love of it: notes on the decline of Entertainment Weekly, the firing of Owen Gleiberman, and the ongoing end of an era

Owen Gleiberman's sacking as lead film critic of Entertainment Weekly — part of a ritual bloodletting of staffers at ...

The most important thing Roger taught me

The most important thing Roger Ebert taught me.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus