Forty-nine minutes pass before an act of what passes for conflict occurs. Ironically, doing so further slows a glacial pace. The existential Western Meeks Cutoff looks like Run Lola Run by comparison. Written and directed by junior filmmaker Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet divided critics wildly in its brief theatrical release; viewers can decide on which side they fall now that its arrived to DVD from IFC.
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. Its 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 fiancées tampon pre-coitus.)
Inti Briones oft-gorgeous cinematography of the landscape is not enough to recommend a viewing, especially on the small screen. 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