Monday, January 30, 2012

Dispatches from Rotterdam: The Loneliest Planet

While the title is a good fit for this film a more accurate one might have been Rupture. This is not just because of The Incident, which creates a rupture in the protagonists’ relationship at the halfway mark of the film, but also because of Loktev's regular use of extreme long-shots. The most obvious point of these shots relates to the official title: they show how isolated these three people are in the magisterial Georgian landscape. But they're also about the sublime being interrupted. Each shot starts with the three figures entering the frame while a thick, swirling string piece slowly builds and each shot ends abruptly, just before the three figures leave the frame and before the score has a chance to finish. This break from an expected formula proved jarring every time and it is a good match for the uncertainties which are suddenly introduced into the narrative. 

The Loneliest Planet is also impressive in its ability to evoke a shared history in small gestures. The central couple’s relationship is suffused with games and familiar conversational gambits which are oft repeated in the first section of the film and which convey a lived-in intimacy. Even more impressive is the way in which the second half of the film introduces previously un-hinted at things - a shared song, a moment of experimentation - in such a way as to imply their significance to the couple's relationship. This is a film in which small gestures add up to a lot.

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