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« Cannes: The Official Slate | Main | Watching You Watching... »

April Showers: The Loneliest Planet

April Showers Returns! (Most nights @ 11)

When I reviewed The Loneliest Planet last year, I puposely avoided the one true spoiler that the whole movie pivots on -- "the incident" as the director calls it. But my aversion to spoilers was so pronounced that I got a little carried away. I didn't even reveal what the first scene of the film entailed. But by now, since this returning series is all about film showers, you've surely guessed it.

I began my review this way:

The first of the senses that writer/director Julia Loktev hits us with over the opening black screen is hearing. The sound is a 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

That utterly mundane yet alien [NSFW] image is after the jump...

The creaking is the wooden floor, the breathing is the actress Hani Furstenberg and the rhythmic pounding is her feet hitting the floor again and again as she hops up and down shivering. She's showering without running water? Or little of it. The film never explains this process. She is definitely lathered up and her hair is wettish. But it isn't until her costar Gael García Bernal crosses her path in a blur that you know relief is in sight.

When there's no running water have Gael García Bernal shower you!

She finally stops bouncing and he fills a pitcher with water to rinse off her suds. The movie is so tactile and sensual, the cinematography and performances so attuned to every heartbeat within this romance that you can feel the water on your own skin and sense memories of hands on wet hair wash over you. Either that or I've you've fantasized about showering with Gael García Bernal so often that it's become a reality.

In the very next scene we watch her, hair only partially dry, watching him play with a landlady's grandchildren? a huge grin crossing her face. The lovers touch each other constantly. In just the first two minutes writer/director Julia Loktev and her actors have fully established the carnal chemistry of this pair as well as their total ease in each other's presence... they're too new to not be throwing off sparks but too settled to be on edge. Yep, they're engaged. 

I've heard The Loneliest Planet described as slow-moving and contemplative but in scenes like this Loktev is working very quickly and with great economy to give you everything you need to know about this couple. You need to feel this relationship in its entirety for the film's drama to really connect when the whole movie pivots at the halfway mark.

It's a beautiful provocative movie and if you're the kind of moviegoer who is patient enough to watch it in one go (stopping and starting it would ruin its slowburn-to-whammy effect) it's available now on Netflix Instant Watch.


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Reader Comments (2)

Nice piece for a excellent movie.

April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Nathaniel, I just noticed the changing eyebrows in your portrait and it scared the bejeezus out of me!

April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

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