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 (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) who undertake a guided backpack tour through the Caucasus Mountains in formerly Soviet Georgia, writer-director Julia Loktev’s artfully restrained The Loneliest Planet provides a hazy yet engaging expedition through that gap.
There’s a hint of Gus Van Sant’s Gerry here, with the movie’s wide shots and lulling rhythms. And yet The Loneliest Planet, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 AFI Film Festival, comes across as ambiguous without being phony or overly coy. It could do with an editorial haircut, but in its refusal to say much directly, or put a bow on its conflict(s), Loktev and her film invite viewers to ponder what they know about their lovers and loved ones and what if anything those gaps in their knowledge necessarily mean about character and compatibility. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Sundance Selects, R, 113 minutes)