The Loneliest Planet

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“Loktev is extraordinarily attuned to minute specifics of emotion… Single images become spoiler-worthy events.” — Karina Longworth, Village Voice

Director: Julia Loktev
Year: 2011
Country: Germany, USA
Running time: 113 mins
Censor Rating: M - nudity, sex scenes

Producers: Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Helge Albers, Marie Therese Guirgis
Screenplay: Julia Loktev. Based on the short story ‘Expensive Trips Nowhere’ by Tom Bissell
Photography: Inti Briones
Editors: Michael Taylor, Julia Loktev
Production designer: Rabiah Troncelliti
Music: Richard Skelton
In English, Georgian and Spanish with English subtitles

With: Gael García Bernal (Alex), Hani Furstenberg (Nica), Bidzina Gujabidze (Dato)

Festivals: Locarno Toronto, New York, Vancouver, London 2011; Rotterdam, San Francisco 2012

Soon-to-be-married Nica and Alex (Hani Furstenberg and Gael García Bernal, very agreeably matched) are backpacking in Georgia and the world is their playground. They coast on local hospitality with their mile-wide smiles and enthusiastic clumsiness with the native tongue. Blithely downplaying the economic underpinnings of their connections to local culture, they are well-schooled in keeping costs down. Hiring a guide, Dato (real-life mountaineer Bidzina Gujabidze), they set off to trek deep into the grassy treeless mountains. As their dependence on him increases, tensions ripple through their idyll, not helped by Dato’s close scrutiny or his jokes about the reliability of guides. An alarming encounter brings the differences to the fore and has deep repercussions for all three. 

Julia Loktev’s acutely observed drama, filmed with great difficulty in the spectacular (big-screen-worthy) Caucasus mountains, nails the global hipster spirit of adventure tourism in the 21st century. And it is as old as the hills themselves in locating the excruciating ways in which we tourists stand revealed when clutching for self-possession in alien cultures. Loktev is particularly, and provocatively, specific about how a man may be exposed in the eyes of a woman. — BG 

“Julia Loktev’s bracing second feature… retains her tense, female-centric perspective… A brilliantly photographed film about small gestures, about silence and the need for forgiveness, about being close to someone but being psychologically miles apart, The Loneliest Planet is a stunning evocation of a relationship and a haunted place, intertwined.” — Mark Peranson, Cinema Scope

NZIFF STAFF PICK: Bill Gosden

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