The Loneliest Planet

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The Loneliest Planet
The Loneliest Planet poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulia Loktev
Produced byHelge Albers
Dallas Brennan
Shelby Alan Brown
Chris Gilligan
Hunter Gray
Marie-Therese Guirgis
Lars Knudsen
Gregory P. Shockro
Rabinder Sira
Jay Van Hoy
Screenplay byJulia Loktev
Based on"Expensive Trips Nowhere"
by Tom Bissell
StarringGael Garcia Bernal
Hani Furstenberg
Bidzina Gujabidze
Distributed byIFC Films United States
Canana Films, Mexico
Manana, Poland
Calinos Entertainment, Turkey
Palace Films, Australia
Release date
  • August 10, 2011 (2011-08-10) (Locarno Film Festival)[1]
  • August 24, 2012 (2012-08-24) (United States)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Loneliest Planet is a 2011 film written and directed by Julia Loktev, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, and Georgian actor Bidzina Gujabidze. The plot centers around a young couple who travel with a local guide through a twisted backpacking trip across the Georgian wilderness.

The film had its international premiere at the 2011 Locarno International Film Festival[2] followed by its North American premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.[3] It then went on to be featured during the New York Film Festival,[4] the BFI London Film Festival,[5] and the 2011 AFI Fest in Los Angeles, where it won the Grand Jury Prize.[6] On March 24, 2012, The Loneliest Planet was awarded the top prize of "Lady Harimaguada de Oro" (The Golden Lady) at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival, where actress Hani Furstenberg also won for Best Actress.[7] On April 14, 2012 the film also won the Golden Tulip International Competition award at the 31st International Istanbul Film Festival.[8]

On October 11, 2011, it was announced that Sundance Selects, a division of IFC Films, had acquired North American distribution rights.[9] The film's theatrical release in the United States was on October 26, 2012.

The film is adapted from McSweeney's writer Tom Bissell's short story "Expensive Trips Nowhere," published in his collection God Lives in St. Petersburg.[10]


Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are in love and engaged to be married. They are seasoned travelers on a trip in the country of Georgia, formerly a republic of the Soviet Union. They hire a local guide (Bidzina Gujabidze) to take them backpacking through the breathtaking scenery of the Caucasus Mountains.

While on their journey, they meet an older man with two boys on their route; he is suspicious of the two foreigners. After a short conversation with their guide, the older man suddenly aims a hunting rifle aggressively at Alex and Nica at point-blank range. For a moment, Alex's reaction is to shield himself behind Nica. He immediately regains his composure, and pushes himself in front of Nica to face the stranger's gun, while their guide in turn persuades the stranger to lower his gun and go on his way. A seemingly traumatized Nica walks away on her own.

A few scenes show the couple not speaking or walking together while on their journey to the mountains, although Alex repeatedly attempts to reconnect with Nica. At one point, they cross a stream where Nica accidentally falls only to be saved by the local guide. Alex tries to offer a shivering Nica some help but she rebuffs him. At night, the local guide tells Nica the story of his failed marriage, and they kiss. Soon after, Nica returns to Alex and the couple have sex. At dawn, the trio start packing up their camps, and it remains ambiguous as to whether or not the couple have finally reconciled.



The film has been well-received by critics. The film currently holds a "certified fresh" approval rating of 70% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 62 reviews with an average of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The source material that inspired The Loneliest Planet may be brief, but this adaptation of a Tom Bissell short story compensates with studious, finely detailed filmmaking, haunting visuals, and thought-provoking subtext."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12] A.O. Scott of The New York Times called The Loneliest Planet, "gripping and haunting, but also coy and elusive."[13] However, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "All of this grows tiresome. We're given no particular reason at the outset of The Loneliest Planet to care about these people, our interest doesn't grow along the way, the landscape grows repetitive...."[14]


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  3. ^ "2011 Toronto International Film Festival Programmer's Note". Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "AFI Fest Awards Grand Jury Prize to The Loneliest Planet". Movieline Newswire. November 10, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  7. ^ "The Loneliest Planet wins Lady Harimaguada de Oro". March 24, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  8. ^ "31st Istanbul Film Festival Awards Presented". April 14, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  9. ^ "Sundance Selects Nabs North American Rights To Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet". AMC Networks Press Release. October 11, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "A Filmmaker's Shock and Awe: Russian-born Julia Loktev's haunting new The Loneliest Planet sends beautiful youth into the wilderness". Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  11. ^ "The Loneliest Planet (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  12. ^ "The Loneliest Planet Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Scott, A.O. "Two Hikers Who Need to Watch Their Steps". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Loneliest Planet Movie Review (2012)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 21 February 2018.

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