‘Life is good, but good life is better.”
The Loneliest Planet (2012) is bookended by one of the strangest openings and unsatisfying endings I’ve ever seen. Based on the short story “Expensive Trips Nowhere” by Tom Bissell, never was a story more aptly named in the source material. Writer/director Julia Loktev has created a very odd feeling movie. Alex (Gael García Bernal) and his fiancé Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are backpacking around Georgia and the Caucus Mountains with their guide Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze). Everything is going by beautifully and boringly until three natives cross their path and things turn sharply. Cowardice. Contemplate that.
The Caucus Mountains are beautiful with some of the coolest and oddest geography I’ve ever seen in a movie. Most of the time, we’re tracking along with the three travelers. There are other moments that are very like Baraka (1992) in both dwelling on the landscape and sweeping string music by Richard Skelton. That part of the movie is quite tolerable as far as it goes because the music is nice and so is the territory. Then come the short story elements and it’s awfully moody and that is tolerable. But then there is the hour in between which consists of hard-to-follow irrelevance. The story is deeply dramatic, but there is never any resolution at all. It seems like about five minutes after the movie ends there might be something, but we don’t see that.
There’s nothing wrong with a slice of life or a moment in time for the ‘plot’ of a movie. But in those movies, there is some kind of movement, some kind of emotional dynamic that comes to a close. In this movie, there is no close, just gaping wounds. There’s some lovely meaning in that, but that’s what you look for in reading a short story or watching a short film. It doesn’t maintain a feature film.
Behind the Scenes which is just as much an observational piece as the movie itself. Some interesting moments are captured like riding wild horses out of frame. This goes for about half an hour. It looks like they had a lot of fun. There is also Bidzina Gujabidze’s mountaineering photos, which are photos of the person who plays Dato mountaineering. There is also a trailer for the movie.
"The Loneliest Planet" is on sale March 5, 2013 and is not rated. Drama. Written and directed by Julia Loktev. Starring Bidzina Gujabidze, Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg.