Starring Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin
If this were some studio funded buddy comedy, it would likely star Jason Segal, and or Jason Clarke. It’s not however, it’s a small indie film with some dark humor, more in the vein of Trey Edward Shults’ “Krisha”. The small-natured production value of “The Climb” is both charming and a bit infuriating for the viewer, quickly coming to understand the production and cinematic limitations. Chapter by chapter we follow two men through a tumultuous friendship. It’s often the more ridiculous the performances, by leads Covino (also the writer and director) and Marvin, the more entertaining “The Climb” becomes.
A steep bike ride up a hill seems like the perfect spot for Mike (Covino) to drop the bomb on his best friend Kyle (Marvin), that he slept with his fiancé. Mike is the intended best man before this shocking announcement, which only gets more dire the more explanation that’s given. The lives of the two men take a similar path as their opening bike ride; curvy, unpredictable and danger around every corner. Their immaturity is a tug of war, where eventually Kyle finally understands the underlying nature of Mike’s repetitive sabotage. Not that either would admit it, but they fear finality, constantly relying on making up after life changing arguments. No matter what they do to one another, the door for redemption is always left ajar.
The small natured production value of “The Climb” is both charming and a bit infuriating for the viewer, quickly coming to understand the production and cinematic limitations.
In each chapter the viewer finds an impressive long take, either beginning at the bottom of the hill ending with a dirty gravel fight at the top. Requiring the actors physical and rehearsed stamina. A very steady camera sequence follows the exterior of a holiday house, giving us bits and pieces from an entire family’s conversation from every room. “The Climb” is ambitiously limited, constantly striving for more then the sum of its parts. What “The Climb” is not, is consistently engaging. For large periods of multiple conversations, the viewer can tune out and rejoin whatever conversation without missing very much. The concept which is repeated again and again through each chapter is ideally different and yet the same, much like life.
“The Climb” is reminiscent of the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon A Trip to Italy trilogy, where two obnoxious grown men travel together, eating and sightseeing their way through gorgeous scenery. “The Climb” doesn’t have anything appealing to offer visually. Based in reality, conversations and circumstances will be more familiar to the viewer. While making it’s debut at Cannes, stopping at Telluride and now the Toronto International Film Festival, “The Climb” seems more tailor made for the SXSW crowd. Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed the film for US distribution, but it’s hard to see where or how this film with no stars and less than attention grabbing elements will find an audience.
Some creative camera work and dark humor isn’t enough to sustain 97 solid minutes of engagement.