It's A Beautiful (If Plotless) "Planet"

‘Life is good, but good life is better.”

The Loneliest Planet (2012) is bookended by one of the strangest openings and unsatisfying endings I’ve ever seen. Based on the short story “Expensive Trips Nowhere” by Tom Bissell, never was a story more aptly named in the source material. Writer/director Julia Loktev has created a very odd feeling movie. Alex (Gael García Bernal) and his fiancé Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are backpacking around Georgia and the Caucus Mountains with their guide Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze). Everything is going by beautifully and boringly until three natives cross their path and things turn sharply. Cowardice. Contemplate that.

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DVD Release: The Loneliest Planet

DVD Release Date: Feb. 26, 2013

Price: DVD $24.98

Studio: IFC

Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg are the picture of happiness--at first--in The Loneliest Planet.

The 2011 thriller The Loneliest Planet starring Gael Garcia Bernal (Letters to Juliet) is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s 1936 short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

A happily engaged couple (Bernal and Israel-based actress Hani Furstenberg) arrive in the Caucasus Mountains in the former Soviet republic of Georgia for a backpacking trip. They engage a villager (Bidzina Gujabidze) to act as guide and the three venture into the stunning wilderness. The trio’s peaceful adventure takes a dark turn when they encounter an armed man and his two sons, prompting a momentary misstep by Alex which creates a subtle rift between himself and Nica. The rift quickly widens until it threatens to destroy everything the couple believed about each other and themselves.

Written and directed by Russian-American filmmaker Julia Loktev,
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The Loneliest Planet Movie Review 3

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The Loneliest Planet Movie Review 3
Title: The Loneliest Planet Director: Julia Loktev Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze On one of the deeper album cuts from their 2004 release “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” U2′s Bono sang, on “A Man and a Woman,” of the “mysterious distance” between the sexes, and how one can often find themselves — for better and worse — lost in that chasm of the ineffable and perhaps unknowable. A cinematic travelogue and unusual three-hander about a pair of young, engaged lovers who undertake a guided backpack tour through the Caucasus Mountains in formerly Soviet Georgia, the artfully restrained “The Loneliest Planet” provides a hazy yet engaging expedition through [ Read More ]

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Julia Loktev On 'The Loneliest Planet,' How Roberto Rosselini & Mikhail Kalatozov Inspired The Film & More

Few were prepared for Julia Loktev's astounding "Day Night Day Night," a harrowing bare-bones drama about a young, innocuous woman preparing to become a suicide bomber. Though it was only her second film (and her first narrative), the project exhuded the confidence and prowess of a more seasoned filmmaker -- contemporary American indies just don't come like this, especially from someone with little experience under their belt. It was something special, and those it touched made sure that Loktev was on their radar. And it took a couple of years, but thankfully the director has returned with "The Loneliest Planet," another spare, observant slice of minimalism that she had done so well a few years prior. This time Loktev explores the complexities of love (among other things) through one couple (Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) and their dedicated Georgian tour guide (Bidzina Gujabidze), centering on one cringing moment during.
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Not Much Happens In 'The Loneliest Planet,' But It's Well Worth a Visit

If you like your films fast-paced a la Michael Bay, then steer clear of "The Loneliest Planet," Julia Loktev's entrancing sophomore feature.

Glacially slow by mainstream standards, "The Loneliest Planet" is more concerned with making you think than hoodwinking you with zany plot developments. For cinemagoers seeking a challenging experience sure to rattle in your brain long after you leave the theater, you'd be advised to visit "The Loneliest Planet."

The drama pits Gael Garcia Bernal opposite fresh face Hani Furstenberg as Alex and Nica, a young, spirited couple backpacking across the Caucasus Mountain in Georgia a mere few months before their wedding date. And who can blame them? As captured gorgeously by cinematographer Inti Briones, the lush mountains make for an idyllic getaway for the vacationer with an adventurous spirit.

For the majority of the first half of Loktev's picture, Alex and Nica walk (a lot), and engage
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The Loneliest Planet | Review

Two lovers hiking — Oh damn did that just happen? — We’ll call it ‘Event’

In 1960, Psycho invented the phenomenon of ‘hyped secrecy,’ which drove the masses to cinematheques worldwide so they could know what all those coy bastards were alluding to in their cryptic post-screening cinegasms. Few films have been able to achieve such a level of intrigue after its release (although The Sixth Sense comes close). Usually, it’s the result of a clever twist that changes our perception of a character’s motives, or sometimes it’s a (rare) satisfactory resolution to a nagging question (what the hell does “Rosebud” mean!), and they’ll almost always be found in either the horror, thriller, or crime genres. Julia Loktev’s third film The Loneliest Planet – a mellow drama cum melodrama – is structured solely and entirely around an ‘event’ at its halfway point that entirely reconfigures how we read the film.
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Exclusive: The Loneliest Planet Clip

Exclusive: The Loneliest Planet Clip
IFC Films has provided us with an exclusive clip from The Loneliest Planet, director Julia Loktev's upcoming thriller that explores the depths of a young couple's relationship. Gael Garc&#237a Bernal and Hani Furstenberg star as Alex and Nica, whose love is threatened by a split-second decision while backpacking in the wilderness. Take a look at this scene where the couple's guide hears a bizarre sound.

The Loneliest Planet - Exclusive Listen

Alex (Gael Garc&#237a Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are young, in love and engaged to be married. The summer before their wedding, they are backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The couple hire a local guide to lead them on a camping trek, and the three set off into a stunning wilderness, a landscape that is both overwhelmingly open and frighteningly closed. Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes, play games to pass the time of moving through space.
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Julia Loktev, “The Loneliest Planet”

Following up on her tense, distressingly visceral narrative feature Day Night Day Night, which anatomized the final hours of a female suicide bomber preparing for an operation in Times Square, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Julia Loktev leaves the cramped urban space of contemporary Manhattan for the majestic wilds of the Caucasus Mountains in The Loneliest Planet, where a Western couple, Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and her fiancée Alex (Gael García Bernal), have embarked on a hiking holiday in post-Soviet Georgia. Navigating their way through the emerald landscape with the help of a guide, Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze), whose war-scarred personal history seems to hang around his fatigued eyes like soot, Nica and Alex are game participants in their less-than-luxurious travel adventure, delighting in their ability to “rough it.” (The film opens with a jolting shot of Nica bouncing in a tub naked, in a kind of ecstatic discomfort, while Alex ferries over buckets of
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Interview: Julia Loktev Visits The Loneliest Planet

Julia Loktev's 2006 movie Day Night Day Night followed a young woman on her journey to become a suicide bomber, a riveting film released at just the right time to really shake up anyone who saw it. Her follow-up The Loneliest Planet may seem mundane by comparison, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg as a young engaged couple who are traveling through the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia with a local guide, played by one of the country's premiere mountaineers, Bidzina Gujabidze. Things are going well and they're enjoying the idyllic holiday until a sudden incident drives a wedge between the couple and they have to finish the journey while what happened hangs over their head. It's a simple and fairly subdued, often dialogue-less story, that uses the grand landscape...
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The Loneliest Planet Movie Review

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The Loneliest Planet Movie Review
Title: The Loneliest Planet Sundance Selects Director: Julia Loktev Screenwriter: Julia Loktev, from Tom Bissell’s short story “Expensive Trips Nowhere” from the collection God Lives in St. Petersburg. Cast: Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze Screened at: Broadway, NYC, 10/11/12 Opens: October 26, 2012 When you ask people who have come home from vacation, “How was your trip?” what do you expect them to say? After all, they’ve spent money, they’ve spent time, they’ve chosen a destination, and most of all they want to make you jealous. Did you ever hear a traveler say, “What a waste of money!” Of course not. This would make them seem like dorks. [ Read More ]

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The Loneliest Planet Trailer

The Loneliest Planet Trailer
Sundance Selects has released the first trailer for The Loneliest Planet, director Julia Loktev's critically-acclaimed indie. Gael Garc&#237a Bernal and Hani Furstenberg star as a young couple who are torn apart after a bizarre experience on vacation. Take a look at the first footage from this thriller set in the Caucasus Mountains.

The Loneliest Planet - Trailer

Alex (Gael Garc&#237a Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are young, in love and engaged to be married. The summer before their wedding, they are backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The couple hire a local guide to lead them on a camping trek, and the three set off into a stunning wilderness, a landscape that is both overwhelmingly open and frighteningly closed. Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes, play games to pass the time of moving through space. And then, a momentary misstep, a gesture that takes only two or three seconds,
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The Loneliest Planet Gets a Trailer

The trailer for Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet is now online, courtesy of iTunes Movie Trailers . Check it out in the player below! In the August 24 release, Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are young, in love and engaged to be married. The summer before their wedding, they set off on a backpacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. In the first section of Julia Loktev.s ("Day Night Day Night") tense, impeccably acted new feature, the filmmaker examines the couple.s relationship with startling intimacy, chronicling the way they support and depend upon each other while making the arduous journey along with their enigmatic Georgian guide (Bidzina Gujabidze). As the two marvel over the jaw-dropping beauty of the mountains, things seem...
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Sydney Film Festival 2012: ‘The Loneliest Planet’ traverses the sweeping green hills of estrangement

The Loneliest Planet

Directed by Julia Loktev

Written by Julia Loktev

2011, USA, Germany

Music can’t quite do it. Paintings can try. Literature can and often does, but it ends up being unwieldy and obsessive. Theatre? Yes, theoretically, but unless all audience members are five feet from the performers, theatre must yield itself to theatrics, grand gestures or at least actions that can be seen from cheap seats in the furthermost row. Sculpture…? No, cinema. Cinema stands as the definitive medium for depicting behaviour; the complex subtlety of a gesture, an expression, over time, captured as intimately as one desires. The written word could barely approximate the enigmatic expression on the Mona Lisa’s face with any real brevity or economy. The painted image could not hope to capture that smile as it morphed and altered in response to Mona Lisa’s inner state, her thoughts, her emotions; a momentary provocation.
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The Loneliest Planet

The Loneliest Planet

Directed by: Julia Loktev

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze

Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins

Rating: Not Rated

Showtimes at Piff: Monday 2/20 5:15pm at Cinema 21, Friday 2/24 8:45pm at Cinema 21 Complete Piff Schedule

Plot: An engaged couple going on a backpacking trip through the Caucasus Mountains and find out some tough truths about their relationship.

Who’S It For? Filmgoers who prefer visuals over dialogue.


Bernal and Furstenberg make a beautiful and believable couple. From the beginning, their rapport seems easy and natural. The film is observational, the camera watches the couple as they walk around town, find a guide, play with children and just have a good time. Their guide seems a little suspect, but maybe only because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Though the program says the film has subtitles, mine didn’t. Most of the dialogue is in English,
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Rwanda Genocide, Sushi Chef, Matthias Schoenaerts: AFI Fest 2011 Awards

Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead AFI Fest 2011, currently being held in Los Angeles, has announced the winners of its audience and jury awards. The Breakthrough section Audience Award winner was Alexandra-Therese Keining's Swedish romantic drama With Every Heartbeat, starring Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjönes as two women who meet and fall in love at a family wedding. Michaël R. Roskam's Belgian [not Dutch, as previously stated in this post] crime drama Bullhead, that country's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry, was the winner in the New Auteurs section. The film's star, Matthias Schoenaerts, was given the Acting Award for his portrayal of a Limburg cattle farmer enmeshed in shady activities. In the Young Americans section, the winner was Clay Liford's comedy Wuss, the story of a high-school teacher whose life takes a turn for the worse after he gets beaten up by his own pupils. David Gelb's Philip Glass-scored documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about sushi master Jiro Ono,
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Nyff: "The Loneliest Planet" With Gael García Bernal

The first of the senses that writer/director Julia Loktev hits us with over the opening black screen is sound. We heara  rhythmic pounding/creaking/breathing that's hard to place (sex scene? construction work?). When the fade-up happens, you'd never guess what image is waiting for you. It's something both utterly mundane and alien and strange. This is only the first of the surprises that await you as you journey across the Georgian wilderness with Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and Alex (Gael García Bernal) in The Loneliest Planet

Hani Furstenberg could eat Gael García Bernal right up in "The Loneliest Planet"

Nica and Alex are madly in love both with each other and their mutual wanderlust. They're seeking an authentic travel experience beyond touristy paths before they marry. English is their common tongue (though neither of their native languages) and the film makes the very smart decision of subtitling nothing, as
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Toronto 2011. Julia Loktev's "The Loneliest Planet"

  • MUBI
Let's start with New York's Logan Hill, who reminds us that "Brooklyn director Julia Loktev's Day Night Day Night was a taut, paranoiac Rorschach thriller about a mysterious woman with mysterious motivations who straps a suicide vest to her chest and takes the subway to Times Square. Her latest film is even more willfully abstruse but just as unsettling. Gael García Bernal and newcomer Hani Furstenberg play fiancées [Alex and Nica] on vacation in the harsh landscape of Georgia…. They're living the backpacker's dream, dancing in club's with strangers, grinning dumbly in response to foreign tongues. Then they meet up with a haggard tour guide of grizzled features and morbid humor (the magnetic and bizarre Bidzina Gujabidze), who takes them off into the mountains on an isolated hike."

"And then something shocking happens — it's not fair to say what this game-changing event is, but, then again, Loktev never makes it clear what it signifies,
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Five Questions For “The Loneliest Planet” Director Julia Loktev

With The Loneliest Planet, the follow-up to her acclaimed feature Day Night Day Night, writer/director Julia Loktev builds a piercing drama around the contrast between a beautiful wide-open landscape and the ugliness of a momentary, possibly reflexive, moment of human behavior. In the film, an adventuring couple (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) trek through the Georgian mountains with a for-hire guide (Bidzina Gujabidze). A violent encounter changes everything. But in Loktev’s world, the hurt comes not from gunplay or kidnappings but from something more subtle. We asked Loktev about the relationship of landscape to story, about silence, and about the progression of her filmmaking.

Filmmaker: The Loneliest Planet deals with the dynamics within one couple’s relationship. Are these dynamics a product of the extreme situation they find themselves in, or are they fissures you think exist, perhaps unseen, within couples in everyday situations?

Loktev: The central
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25 Alternative 2011 Tiff Picks: Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet

#15. The Loneliest Planet Director: Julia Loktev Cast: Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze Distributor: Rights Available Buzz: Perhaps this year's contempo version of Meek's Cutoff because of the navigation of male-female rapport in the tricky surroundings of the vast wilderness, if it weren't for Gael García Bernal signing up for the lead, perhaps Julia Loktev would still be trying to finance the film --- this says a lot about the quality of the project and perhaps the observational approach to the film with much of the minimalism we found in her debut effort - Day Night Day Night. Recently premiered in Locarno with a glowing review from both Variety and IndieWIRE, I'm decidedly hopeful about the prospects. The Gist: I'm looking forward to the portion of the film where Pandora's Box is flung right open -- this observes a young couple is backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia
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NYFF2011: Main Slate Announced

The 49th New York Film Festival has announced their main slate which takes place September 30th thru October 16th at Lincoln Center. The closing night selection is Alexander Payne’s The Descendants which joins the gala screenings of opening night’s Roman Polanski’s Carnage, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, and the Almodóvar/Banderas reunion The Skin I Live In. Check out the lineup below along with a synopsis of each film:

Opening Night Gala Selection


Director: Roman Polanski

Country: France/Germany/Poland

Centerpiece Gala Selection

My Week With Marilyn

Director: Simon Curtis

Country: UK

Special Gala Presentations

A Dangerous Method

Director: David Cronenberg

Country: UK/Canada/Germany

The Skin I Live In

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Country: Spain

Closing Night Gala Selection

The Descendants

Director: Alexander Payne

Country: USA

Main Slate Selection

4:44: Last Day On Earth

Director: Abel Ferrara

Country: USA

The Artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
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