This film is about an engaged couple named Nica and Alex played by Hani Furstenberg and Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También). They go backpacking in the picturesque Caucasus Mountains with a Georgian tour guide named Dato. There is very little dialogue in the beginning of the film as it focuses on the beautiful scenery they are experiencing. The two seem to be happy just exploring together and have a goofy and carefree connection. While hiking, they come across an older man with two younger boys. The older man speaks with Dato in his native tongue and Alex finally asks them what is going on and is confronted with a gun to his face. His initial reaction is to cower behind Nica and then when realizing his folly quickly pulls Nica behind him to shield her. Dato gently takes the gun away from the man, and the man gestures that there are no hard feelings and gives Alex a pair of sunglasses. Alex is shaken and confused and takes off his bracelet thinking the man wants something in return. He waves Alex off and then then walks away with the younger boys. Nica, visibly shaken and dazed, turns around and walks off with Dato and Alex slowly following behind her. The film shifts at this exact moment, and the rest of the film revolves around the fallout from this scene.
I enjoyed the cinematography and the beautiful scenery, but the pace of the film was a bit slow for me. Both actors did a great job expressing their feelings without saying a word as so much relied on their silent emoting. The director, Julia Loktev, had a way of making the movie steer you in a direction with, at first glance, seemingly small moments and covert emotions. Parts of the editing with the film’s music and scenes were choppy, and that only seemed to enhance how discombobulated the couple felt after the incident. There were many subtle elements to the film that seemed out of place on their own, but Loktev artfully pieced them together to make it all work. (This film won the Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest in 2011.)