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HomeMoviesThis tale of friendship is best on the big screen : NPR

This tale of friendship is best on the big screen : NPR


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Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) and Pietro (Luca Marinelli) reconnect within the Italian Alps as adults in The Eight Mountains.

Sideshow/Janus Movies

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Sideshow/Janus Movies

Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) and Pietro (Luca Marinelli) reconnect within the Italian Alps as adults in The Eight Mountains.

Sideshow/Janus Movies

Over the previous a number of months I’ve seen a number of unusually heartfelt films about male friendship — a topic that Hollywood likes to exploit for laughs however not often treats with the sincerity and sensitivity it deserves. So it has been refreshing to come across movies which have lately bucked the development, like Armageddon Time and the Oscar-nominated Shut.

The very best of the bunch is the brand new Italian-language drama The Eight Mountains, which was written and directed by the Belgian filmmakers Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch. Tailored from Paolo Cognetti’s 2016 debut novel, it tells the story of two younger boys who meet within the Italian Alps and forge a life-changing bond. The mountain surroundings is spectacular — see this one in a theater in case you can — nevertheless it’s the richness of the emotional journey that stays with you.

The story is narrated by Pietro, a younger boy from town of Turin who’s spending a summer time within the Alps along with his dad and mom. It is there that he meets one other boy about the identical age, named Bruno, who lives on a small farm close by. They grow to be quick buddies, and the mountain, with its scenic lakes and luxurious valleys, makes for a shocking open playground.

The film captures the rambunctious, rough-and-tumble pleasure of their time collectively, which is harmless and ideal and, after all, cannot final. Summer time ends, Pietro returns to Turin and Bruno stays behind within the mountains. Other than one transient assembly as youngsters, they do not actually see one another once more till a long time later, once they’re absolutely grown males. Pietro is now performed by the terrific Italian star Luca Marinelli, and Bruno by the quietly charismatic Alessandro Borghi.

Their long-overdue reunion is ready in movement by the premature loss of life of Pietro’s father. It is right here that The Eight Mountains soars to life as an achingly bittersweet drama about two buddies returning to the place the place they first met years earlier, and making up for all their time aside. I used to be usually reminded of Brokeback Mountain; even when Pietro and Bruno’s love story is, so far as we are able to inform, a platonic one, they each search refuge in nature — and one another — from their frustrations and disappointments.

Pietro is in for some robust revelations; he learns that his dad, from whom he was estranged, had grown near Bruno, and had even grow to be a sort of surrogate father determine. However whereas Pietro feels some jealousy and remorse, he would not resent Bruno for it; if something, it brings them nearer collectively, and even permits Pietro to make peace with a mother or father he by no means understood.

Earlier than lengthy, the 2 determine to construct a cabin within the mountains — one thing Pietro’s father had dreamed of doing himself. It is laborious work, however Bruno is a talented carpenter and Pietro learns quick. They attempt to meet again on the home each summer time. Within the meantime, Bruno turns into a farmer and cheesemaker, like his ancestors earlier than him; he falls in love with a lady and has a daughter. Pietro turns into a author and in addition falls in love with a lady, whom he meets whereas touring in Nepal.

Even so, each males stay surprisingly unfulfilled, and one of many insights of The Eight Mountains is that everybody, whether or not they come from city or nation, experiences unhappiness in their very own distinctive means. Pietro, educated and stressed, would not fairly know who he’s; he flits from one journey to the following, not sure of the place or the way to calm down. Bruno, hardy and cussed, has the other drawback: He cannot envision a life for himself away from these mountains, even when his payments start to mount and the farm begins to fail.

That is the primary movie directed by Vandermeersch, a longtime actor. Her co-director and companion, Van Groeningen, has made numerous earlier options, together with the romantic tragedy The Damaged Circle Breakdown and Stunning Boy, an dependancy drama starring Timothée Chalamet. He loves tormented characters and massive, angsty feelings, however whereas The Eight Mountains churns with feeling, I got here away admiring its subtlety and complexity — and sure, its majesty.

It is not simply the film’s visible grandeur that wows you; it is the size of it, the best way it merges the epic and the intimate. At instances the digicam will pull again and present us the characters from a distance, dwarfed by the sheer magnificence of their environment, as if to counsel how small all of us are within the scheme of issues. However then it can minimize to Pietro and Bruno, letting their faces and our bodies fill the display screen, and their lives abruptly do not appear so insignificant. Their love story is gorgeous — and unforgettable.


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