The Loneliest Planet Reviews

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½ January 22, 2013
While it does have something profound to say about relationships and how one moment can make or break them, "The Loneliest Planet" takes so long to get to its rather poignant yet elusive point, that it may seem to some as a bit too meandering. BUT, if you can stay with it, independent writer/director Julia Loktev does deliver with a payoff that is hauntingly thought provoking, with a high potential for inducing provocative discussions. Written (adapted from a short story from Tom Bissell) and exquisitely directed by Loktev using a plethora of expressive long takes, "The Loneliest Plant" stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg and centers around a young, adventurous and engaged to be married couple, who travel on a backpacking trip along the Caucasus Mountains, lead by a local Georgian guide. Sounds riveting right? Well, the initial hour does play out like a rather dull, elongated version of a short story, but then something happens that essentially changes the entire relationship dynamic, and more importantly allows the second half of this 2 hour film to slowly blossom into a tragic and quite engaging dissection of the male and female roles in a relationship. At times "The Loneliest Planet" displays thematic similarities to 2012's independent female relationship point of view film "Take this Waltz", but Loktev seems to be able to get her female visual prospective across with slightly more clarity, while still keeping a fascinating air of ambiguousness.

The truth is "The Loneliest Planet" is a hard film to review because it is contingent on one scene (really one physical movement) an hour into the picture, that I can't really talk about. But what I can say is that the latter half of the movie (after the big scene) although consists of Bernal and Furstenberg continuing to walk around the Caucasus Mountains (mostly in silence) is quite a moving piece of cinema that does show off Loktev's Malick-esque directorial skills.

On the other hand, this film is not for everybody. What will ultimately hold this back for many, will be the (at times) too Independent for its own good feel of the entire picture, as Loktev holds on shots for minutes at a time where nothing seems to be going on, and spends a lot of time filming characters ad-libbing their dialogue. Other issues may come down to the free flowing (slow) pacing of "The Loneliest Planet", which may leave many walking out of this movie questioning: Was Loktev's introspective inquiries really worth the journey?

Final Thought: In my opinion this sort of Avant-garde piece about a couple under duress is very much a film geared more towards female audiences. That is to say, the main focus is not Bernal. He is only the vehicle that helps show the nature of the male counterpart. The real star of the show here is Furstenberg, who displays the complex prospective of a female outlook on relationships exceptionally well, and thusly what she goes through should be more fully understood by female audiences. That is not to say that men will not enjoy this film, but for most men, "The Loneliest Planet" may be too hard of a pill to swallow. Plus, if you are currently a male in a relationship, this is one movie that may only serve to plant the seed of an awkward conversation (which in turn, probably is the point).

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ November 25, 2012
As beautiful as some of the scenery is, the most remarkable thing surprisingly about "The Loneliest Planet" is sound. For example, even before the movie starts, there is the sound of pounding that is revealed to be Nica(Hani Furstenberg) trying to desperately keep warm while her fiance Alex(Gael Garcia Bernal) tries to work a makeshift shower for her. They have been roughing it for three weeks in Georgia, currently residing in a small town off the beaten track where they interact with the natives(love the improvised game of volleyball), enjoy the local cuisine and negotiate for the services of a local guide, Dato(Bidzina Gujabidze).

But what the audio of the movie does not pick up oddly enough is usually the sound of conversation, not only between the lovers as they trek in this microcosm of a relationship where trust is paramount, but also in the way curious people of different cultures exchange information about each other, even if Alex and Nica have drifted far enough away that English is no longer the lingua franca. Out of the drips and drabs of talk that we do get, it can be inferred that Nica, having traveled a great deal already in her young life, is ready to settle down at the age of 30 before hauling her future kids all over the place to see her favorite sights.
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2012
"The Loneliest Planet" is about an american couple on holiday in Eastern Europe, Georgia accompanied by a guide they befriend. It started out promsing and intriguing, some parts were very intertesting to the flm's setting and the character's experience in travelling across a vast and unknown terrain. The acting is very Mediocre, the woman looks a lot like Jessica Chastain but less talented. Its very artistic and visually stunning in cinematography, camerawork and editing that really captures the beauty and resonance. The script however is very shallow and has minimal dialogue thats very incoherrent, the character development isn't too good either, a lot more could have been done on most story elements which lets the film down a lot. I found it dragging halfway through and became dissapointed about the film's conclusion. I found it quite saifying but a bit of a let down, this is also the first film at the festival that no one clapped at the end.
Super Reviewer
December 19, 2012
It may be about 20-30 minutes too long, but its so earnest in its attempt to dissect this relationship and how its affected by one small but devastating act that I was fascinated from start to finish. It revels in ambiguity, so I can see it frustrating a lot of people but I believe its the film's strongest asset. The mystery isn't forced and I think that it could potentially yield a lot of interesting discussion about the sexual and emotional politics of relationships.
½ December 13, 2012
Oh, there will certainly be blood marked against "The Loneliest Planet" from audiences wanting the perfect getaway of Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) -- visiting Georgia the summer before getting hitched -- to come attached with more, preferably pulpier strings. Praise Julia Loktev's film all you'd like -- poignant, original, shockingly cognizant -- it's not for everybody. Hold on; I never said worthless. It's tough not to read into this art house wanderlust of pastoral imagery concerning the pain of passage, instinct, and what it means to be human, especially with two actors at the helm who couldn't be more open and engaged. Sleepy but never bored, one could call "The Loneliest Planet"; alive with the kind of kick you get from dreams where the water's too cold or distant mountain too high. But something's definitely up.

What gives the second half of this movie its honesty, darkness and gritty charm is a moment-long hot flash that seems like forever, because it's the first time Alex and Nica shot together has a joint feeling of watching two naked people scared and alone left to their own devices. It's some of the most quietly devastating film 2012 can shake a stick at, in a beautifully realized work that should be noted and appreciated both for its narrative invention and reflection on the difficulty of relationships. "The Loneliest Planet" brims dizzily with idea and understanding -- unforgettable, irreversible, and that haunts like no other.
½ February 28, 2013
One of the best kept film secrets of 2012 was this profoundly original and emotionally powerful film that only looks like a love story between a couple backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains the summer before they marry. Alex (Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg, in a incredible breakout performance) take pure pleasure in opening themselves up to what the world has to offer, as well as opening up to one another. These two are vibrantly, passionately in love. As they make their way through the mountains with their Georgian tour guide (real-life mountaineer Bidzina Gujabidze), writer-director Julia Loktev (I'd remember that name) alternates between the couple being in love in intimate close up and also from a staggering distance, illustrating remarkably how this trio looks so insignificant amidst their surroundings.

Part of the beauty of The Loneliest Planet is the fact that's its largely told in images and action, it's nearly wordless. Really who says silent filmmaking is dead. The film is a beautiful collage that impacts the aural and visual senses, demonstrating an astonishing artistic sensibility. Every shot and scene shows the excitement and sometimes sheer terror of guiding and being guided through unknown terrain, on an emotional and physical level. And take care to try and catch the telling moment that could potentially change everything Alex and Nica know about one another. The Loneliest Planet is vital, beautiful filmmaking, a treatise on how no individual can outrun basic emotions of loneliness and yearning, even while exploring the very ends of the earth. It's some kind of miracle.
January 21, 2013
The years most frustrating film. The Loneliest Planet has great acting, beautiful scenery and interesting themes going for it. Sadly, the film's pacing will test the patience of even art-house lovers (such as myself). More importantly, the film fails on an emotional level after the turning point in its plot. There reaches a point where a stubborn dis-use of scripted dialogue within a film ceases to be realistic (which is problematic when a film seemingly strives to be naturalistic in its approach).
½ November 25, 2012
I feel duped by trusting the critic reviews. The movie was a major time drain. I wish I could get back those 2 hours of my life and watch something more though provoking, like Magic Mike. My friend pointed out at the end that all of the dialogue in the movie was revealed in the trailer. There is a loooong, slow lead up to the 2-3 second gesture that "threatens to undo everything." Then a looooong, slow, silent follow up to the movie's end.
½ March 24, 2012
Lazy, apathetic, emotion-deprived, thought-deprived, navel-gazing, pretentious muck. Burn every fucking print of this movie. Julia Loktev: get a job. Shame on Bernal. One of the worst experiences I've had in a cinema. Really wanted to walk the fuck out, but stayed so I would learn how NOT to make a movie. Smarmy indie yuppie sludge at its nadir. Unjustifiable and frankly a shit representation of the industry. How many good movies were not made at the expense of this vacuous void?
February 9, 2015
A poorly shot, pitiful spectacle of two human beings with no courage or humility. A poor representation of love and reality. A story of people who are so consumed with their mortality that they fail to care for one another when it is confronted. The only redeeming thing about this film is the use of natural light and the coloring of the film. Otherwise it's a drawn out spectacle with too many shots of the grass growing.
½ August 31, 2014
Whoopty-do - you created a whole movie without a text, where the entire conflict is in the subtext. So it's kind of a new form of film communication, and we have to respect it, even though it's so indulgently long and borrrring!
½ August 6, 2014
This is a film about the ways in which we know someone; and then all of a sudden, we don't.

The extreme long shots that last eight minutes accompanied by meditative music attempt to take us to these mountains and see what the characters cannot.
The unflinching takes of monotonous conversation aim to bring you into the relationship of two people that feel utterly comfortable with each other.
At the same time, the long takes capturing a relentless silence will tell us much more about them than anything they can say. There is a lot in a relationship that remains in the dark, words that go unsaid and thoughts go unexpressed. Much of a relationship is built on what is not said. This film captures that quiet crumbling of a superficial relationship based on conjugating verbs and headstands. It asks but never answers the questions: what does it mean to be a man, a coward, independent, in love, alone? Well done.
½ July 13, 2014
Despite the film's talented leads and haunting tone the story will test your patients as a viewer. It becomes apparent that there's little meat on this film's proverbial bones. Moreover the payoff isn't worth the wait but I suppose any film that sparks debate is worth checking out.
½ April 15, 2014
Just for the cinematography.
½ April 12, 2014
Horrible. Just horrible.
½ March 9, 2014
When the scenery steals the show you know the movie sucks. This may be one of the worst movies ever filmed. Tedious, vacuous, slow, aimless and dull. It confuses inertia for progress and pretty pictures for purposeful movie-making. A truly godawful film.
½ December 26, 2013
I thought something much more exciting was going to happen after seeing the trailer, but the "incident" was very thought-provoking if brief. There are only three short occurences in the movie that grab your attention but besides the great cinematography I found myself waiting and waiting for something extremely dramatic to happen (it didn't) to compensate for the lengthy shots of them walking, walking, removing a stone from a shoe, walking, filling up water, walking, walking, practicing spanish, walking. All in all, pretty boring but nice to look at and a good "what would you do?" talking point.
January 15, 2013
The Loneliest Planet is a peculiar and utterly fascinating art house drama. Everything people seem to hate about this film, I love about it. I loved how every interaction and every emotion was about subtlety and trying to interpret what the characters were thinking during their backpacking excursion through the Georgian wilderness. I also loved how it was both a fascinating character study and also an interesting piece about relationships and how a single event can slowly tear apart that relationship. Many people don't like this film because they complain that there is too much wandering through the wilderness along with many long scenes, but I didn't mind at all. In fact, I felt that it added value and an evocative feel to it. The direction itself by Julia Loktev is superb, especially with her many beautiful shots of the stunning Georgian wilderness and how she commands the trio of actors. It's a film in which every scene, every interaction, even every little thing seems to have a level of importance and must be analyzed by the viewer. While many others found it horribly boring, I found myself engrossed in the story as the characters struggle with their inner conflicts while wandering the vast, beautiful, but eerie and lonely wilderness that surrounds them. It's a film that not only made me ponder about what it had to say, but it continued to make me think even after it was over. It's a drama that I will no doubt view many more times in the future as it is one that I will truly never forget. Unless you really enjoy slow moving art house films that are all about subtlety and interpretation, The Loneliest Planet will bore you to tears and it's definitely not a film that I would recommend to most people. For me, it is a superb film and one of the best dramas I've ever seen.
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