The Climb

 

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Best buddies Kyle Marvin and Michael Angelo Covino explore their chaotic friendship in seven single-take chapters.

   

Climb, The

Till death us do part: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino and Gayle Rankin 

  

It’s an uphill struggle for the friendship of Kyle and Mike, who initially fall out during a cycling trip in the French Alps. When Mike casually mentions that he’s slept with Kyle’s fiancée Ava (Judith Godrèche), things end in tears. Then, following a road rage incident, Mike ends up in hospital. Kyle is by his side, but when Ava comes to visit, Mike makes a pass at her, a kiss she reciprocates. The wedding is then called off and in the second of seven chapters, Mike is seen weeping at Ava’s funeral, a mortifying event that reveals Mike to be Ava’s widower. And so the film moves forward in time as the once overweight Kyle is now the trim fiancé of Marissa (Gayle Rankin) and Mike a pot-bellied drunk.

 

The Climb marks the directorial debut of Michael Angelo Covino, who co-wrote and co-produced the film with his best friend Kyle Marvin. They play Mike and Kyle, roughly based on exaggerated versions of themselves. And besides being a bracing insight into male camaraderie, the film’s septet of chapters are all shot in one take each. It certainly provides a novel background for this view of betrayal, forgiveness and co-dependency and has proved an enormous hit at such festivals as Cannes, Telluride and Sundance.

 

Quite what the viewer will make of it all is another matter. The Climb certainly wins Brownie points for originality, but the overriding artificiality of the concept will divide audiences according to their taste. Such cult indie hits as Napoleon Dynamite and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back depend on a very specific attitude to the material. And not everybody adores yeast extract. The main problem with The Climb is with its detachment from identifiable reality and its moments of contrived surrealism. For good measure, there’s even a couple of impromptu musical numbers. It’s all very clever – and no doubt Covino and Marvin had a blast exposing their dirty laundry – but the actual plausibility of their connection doesn’t always ring true. And, quite frankly, the obnoxiousness of Mike is no laughing matter.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godrèche, Daniella Covino, Sondra James.

 

Dir Michael Angelo Covino, Pro Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin and Noah Lang, Screenplay Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin, Ph Zach Kuperstein, Pro Des Kaili Corcoran and Leo Swartz, Ed Sara Shaw, Music Jon Natchez and Martin Mabz, Costumes Callan Stokes.

 

Topic Studios/Watch this Ready-Sony Pictures.

94 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 23 October 2020. Cert. 15.