The Loneliest Plant is a story of betrayal set in the wilderness of Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains. Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) are two Americans in love with each other. They go on a backpacking trip the summer before their wedding.
We first see Nica in the beginning of Loneliest Planet. She is stark naked in a bath tub as Alex pours warm water over her hair. Later on we see her doing chin-ups inside a bus. She even beats him in a headstand contest. The two are deliriously in love with each other and it shows with the way they make love.
The two are serious backpackers and they hire a mysterious mountaineer Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze) as their guide through the steep, treeless terrain. To pass the time during their journey, they joke around and conjugate irregular Spanish verbs.
Viewers will never find out the relationship between the couple and their guide. Dato shows Nica some rope tricks and Alex smiles all throughout the journey. But after one mistake on Alex’s part, everything they believed or wanted to believe about each other is placed into question.
Loneliest Planet is from Russian-born American-raised director Julia Loktev. It is a movie about existential angst based on Tom Bissell’s Expensive Trips Nowhere, which also inspired Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. In that story, Macomber and his wife Margot are on an African big game safari with guide. Francis panics when charged by a lion and Margot teases him for his cowardice. She later sleeps with the guide. The story is acclaimed as one of Hemingway’s best because of the ambiguous complexity of the characters.
The Loneliest Planet has a very slow pace. The movie consists of long shots or very tight close-ups. It doesn’t take advantage of the expansive mountain range. It has long silent moments that end with abrupt cuts.