DRAMA; 1hr 53min
STARRING: Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze
Georgia on their mind: from left, García Bernal, Gujabidze and Furstenberg
The implacable, elemental landscape of Georgia dwarfs human beings and redetermines their lives in writer-director Julia Loktev’s character-peeling film of Tom Bissell’s 2005 short story “Expensive Trips Nowhere”. The Caucasus Mountains are vastly removed from middle-class comfort zones. That’s both the lure and the danger for engaged couple Nica and Alex (Furstenberg and Garcia Bernal). They’re in love and in the moment in the heightened way that such love brings with it, until a chance encounter while hiking with a guide (Gujabidze) destabilises their relationship. In a matter of seconds, their every assumption about themselves has changed.
Because Loktev, Furstenberg and García Bernal have established Nica and Alex’s coupledom with the naturalistic easiness of a holiday home video, the impact of the incident is a blunt trauma — to audiences, as well. Each of the three trekkers is now as isolated as the rocky terrain through which they’re laboriously making their way. With sparse dialogue and peephole intimacy, The Loneliest Planet bears witness to one unguarded and self-revealing moment that will dictate all those that follow.