Scott Marks 9:44 a.m., May 21
The Loneliest Planet
Director Julia Loktev’s adaptation of Tom Bissell’s claustrophobic short story, set in a place that is anything but: the Caucasus Mountains. At issue is manhood, or at least, how a man responds in the moment. Alex (a bearded Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (a redheaded Hani Furstenberg), adventurous and engaged to be married, hire local veteran Dato (a shaved-headed Bidzina Gujabidze) to serve as their guide on one of those hikes that doesn’t show up in your guidebook. Dato proves an able guide and an amiable if awkward conversationalist — viz. his protracted joke about Georgians being called in to castrate the overbreeding Chinese — and if the viewer begins to feel the drip, drip, drip of tension building up, it certainly isn’t because of anything overt. Indeed, when the moment of crisis comes, Dato is just a bystander. But even so, he’s there, as much a presence as the mountains looming overhead, and the fallout lands accordingly. The camera's willingness to hold particular shots — whether of a couple in conversation or a trio crossing a titanic landscape — is sometimes sometimes frustrating, but Loktev will not be rushed. She takes her time with every scene and setting; if the significance isn’t immediately clear, give it a minute and it'll come to you. 2012.
— Matthew Lickona
- "Interview with The Loneliest Planet Writer-Director Julia Loktev" • November 6, 2012