For a negative review this article is going to start on a positive note for "The Loneliest Planet", which opened this weekend at the Harris Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh or is available to stream with a Netflix membership. That note being on this new Foreign Indie movie and it's dogged attempt at trying to create a mood or metaphor about being alone in the world with no one you can really trust. It works, monotonously so in a feature that fails to be an entertaining experience.
Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg), a young engaged couple traveling abroad, are so eager to take a serious camping trip through Georgia's Caucasus Mountains that they hire a local guide. As they travel deep into the wild landscape, however, the emotional atmosphere shifts dramatically for the couple when an unexpected encounter ensues. Drawing them into questions about love, humanity and courage.
The main theme of the film seems to entrance you in with its all-encompassing style. A style that includes no subtitles, furthering the feeling of isolation. A dubious trick so you can grow close to the main characters and their plight. Instead, this style (and it's trick) becomes overbearing and shadows out both an interesting story and the audiences' concern as to what happens to these two leads.
Viewers are treated to extended takes of the trio walking on foot, dotting the rocky landscape. Slow going, and it becomes apparent after watching scenes eventually be repeated that there really isn't much left to say. No one talks and when they do it's their backward guide with nonsensical ramblings. Long takes (and I mean long) that tell little. On the page this movie's idea may have succeeded in theory, but in practical form it certainly doesn't.
Making viewers wait for a big reveal that doesn't have much weight when it finally arrives, and then dragging out the inevitable ending with characters divided and an uneasiness filling in all the rest of the blanks. Badly in need of editing the film runs on (and on) for almost two hours.
German Director Julia Loktev delivers a suspense tale so slowly paced, it's somnambulistic. Gorgeously shot and well acted, there is no getting around the fact that "The Loneliest Planet" wants to evoke an existential dilemma. Unfortunately it peters out into something that feels lost and alone. Uncomfortable, an empty experiment that falls short.