It’s curious that the Internet Movie Database has classified The Loneliest Planet as a “thriller,” since the film forgoes not just all that genre’s trappings, but narrative altogether.
Forty-nine minutes pass before an act of what passes for conflict occurs. Ironically, doing so further slows a glacial pace. The existential Western Meek’s Cutoff looks like Run Lola Run by comparison.
Written and directed by junior filmmaker Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet has divided critics wildly. Moviegoers can decide on which side they fall when it plays Friday and Saturday evening at Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Among a virtual three-person cast, Gael García Bernal (Casa de Mi Padre) and Israeli actress Hani Furstenberg rough it as Alex and Nica, an engaged couple hiking through the Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia with their guide, Dato (newcomer Bidzina Gujabidze), in what feels like real time — agonizingly so. It’s as if mumblecore summoned enough energy to go outdoors.
Alex and Nica play footsie; the trio sings campfire songs in full; our couple teaches Dato R-rated tongue twisters in English; Dato performs rope tricks; Nica urinates in the dark. What has “happened” by the time the credits roll hardly justifies a feature treatment, whether or not the sex scenes are included. (Early in the picture, Alex, ever the gentleman, removes his fiancée’s tampon pre-coitus.)
Inti Briones’ oft-gorgeous cinematography of the landscape is not enough to recommend a viewing. The Loneliest Planet may be of interest to those insane people who find things like “camping” and “absence of plumbing” fun, or to those who seek irrefutable proof that Furstenberg is a natural redhead. —Rod Lott