Critic Jim Hoberman on Julia Loktev’s new feature THE LONELIEST PLANET —
“The Russian-born filmmaker isn’t exactly a disciple of Sergei Eisenstein, but her approach is suggestive of an assertion Eisenstein made in his first published article “Montage of Attractions.” He was writing on theater but soon applied his ideas to cinema: The medium’s “basic materials” are found in the spectator and arise “from our guiding of the spectator into a desired direction (or a desired mood).” Accordingly, the audience is subjected to a calculated series of surprises or jolts.
That cine Loktev is, to some degree, predicated on the nature of shock (including the shock of “non-recognition”) may also have something to do with her childhood. The filmmaker was relocated at age 9, brought by her parents, both computer scientists, from the city then called Leningrad to deepest America (Loveland, Colo.). Thus transplanted, Loktev has perhaps taken as her mission a desire to unsettle, as The Loneliest Planet surely does with its account of two innocents abroad. ”