Cinema Review: The Climb | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, November 23rd, 2020  

The Climb

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Michael Angelo Covino

Nov 12, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Based off of the 2018 short film of the same name, Michael Angelo Covino’s The Climb is an affecting, if not fully mastered, ode to the power of friendship. Divided into seven chapters, the film opens with best friends Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) biking through the picturesque mountains of Southern France. As Kyle rambles on and on about his soon-to-be wife Ava (Judith Godrèche), Mike blurts out an earth-shattering secret: he and Ava have been having an affair for a very long time. From there, the journey through the two’s lives, both together and separately, begins.

While the start of the film is abrupt and shocking, the turnaround is quick as the two’s friendship is repaired and Mike’s focus is on his disapproval of Kyle’s new fiancée, Marissa (Gayle Rankin). As someone disliked by Kyle’s entire family, Marissa’s announcement of her and Kyle’s engagement isn’t received well. From there, each subsequent chapter centers around Kyle attempting to balance his friendship and relationship, with the additional burden of Mike’s and Marissa’s genuine disdain for each other.

Even though there is a central storyline of the two friends’ lives, each chapter of The Climb feels independent of the others. The gaps between the chapters last anywhere from months to years, and the abrupt cut at the end of each chapter usually leaves the viewer feeling matters have been left unresolved. The independent nature of each chapter proves to be a shortcoming, particularly when the complex ideas and themes surrounding Kyle’s and Marissa’s pending nuptials are introduced. Without spending enough time with the characters outside of a few fight scenes, it always feels like a piece of the puzzle is missing. With a little more time invested in the characters’ personalities and motives, there would be a lot more emotional resonance.

The Climb relies on two strong leads to sell the premise of a longstanding friendship. Covino and Marvin do not disappoint. Best friends in real life, this shines through every one of their interactions – from simple scenes such as playing “Never Have I Ever” by themselves with a lot of Jägermeister, to more complex scenes such as when they confront each other about the mistakes they’ve made. Through Covino’s and Mullin’s performances, as well as the sharp, if not entirely effective, script they wrote together, the feeling of a strong friendship is relayed in an engrossing and powerful way.

Regardless of The Climb’s shortcomings and missed opportunities, it explores heavy moral and human themes in a light yet effective way. It usually brings in humor whenever situations get too serious, but embracing the tough moments all the same. The Climb is not a game changer, but it is worth a watch as the promising debut from Covino and Marvin.

(www.sonyclassics.com/film/theclimb)

Author rating: 6/10

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