20 October 2011

The Loneliest Planet

Written & Directed by: Julia Loktev
Full credits at IMDb

One thing happens in The Loneliest Planet, a single incident that divides the film in half and unbalances the relationships of its central characters. Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg play an engaged couple pre-honeymooning through the wilderness of Georgia (the former Soviet satellite); non-professional Bidzina Gujabidze is their guide across the grassy valleys and hillsides. (Director Loktev shoots the landscape with a weirdly abstracting telephoto lens, flattening the space to reflect the intimacy of the storytelling.) A vague menace hovers around our characters as they tromp down trails (their status as hikers unfavorably reminding me of those Americans who walked into Iran). Music on the soundtrack quickly cuts out, snapping the audience out of its lull like violence does to the characters: trouble finally comes in the form of a few local hunters, who provoke Bernal to commit either an act of instinctual self-preservation or of revealing cowardice. Either way, it's shaming—and unsettling thereafter to all who were present.

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