The Loneliest Planet | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Loneliest Planet

A spare drama in which the relationship of a couple trekking in the Caucasus Mountains is tested

Starts Fri., Jan. 4. Harris
Starts Fri., Jan. 4. Harris

In Julia Loktev's spare drama, a young American couple (Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg) are enjoying a backpacking adventure in the remote parts of Georgia. They hire a local man (Bidzina Gujabidze) to guide them on a trek of the Caucasus Mountains. Things are going well, until one misstep (literally) happens that causes a deep rupture in the couple's dynamic.

This is one of those films where something momentous occurs deep within the relationship, while seemingly nothing happens on screen. You should not see this film if you prefer a lot of dialogue and action. Even the incident that throws the trip into misery occurs wordlessly, and is never discussed. 

For those who don't mind a leaner drama, Loktev's film offers some rewards. There is the breathtaking scenery, gorgeous in its own right, and incorporated into the story. And there is the physical work of Bernal and Furstenberg, who convey nearly every significant shift in their relationship without words. But be forewarned: Much of this two-hour film is simply watching three people walk through mountains.

The thing that happens mid-film changes the dynamic of the trio — and by implication, could change how Alex and Nica view each other going forward in their shared (or not?) lives. But Loktev's intimate film also puts viewers alongside the trekking group, processing the event, judging the characters' reactions, and perhaps questioning their own assumptions about how couples should behave. But you may also feel as trapped as these trekkers, wandering wordlessly across the landscape.

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