Starring: Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Running Time: 95 mins
The Climb is an American film about the rollercoaster friendship of two men over the course of many years.
A pitch-perfect comedy-drama from start to finish, The Climb is a funny, intelligent, organic and touching tale of friendship. Dealing with a sobering yet equally farcical story that lasts over many years, the film is full of honest emotion, and somehow manages to deliver a sprawling story of a lifetime in a very short space of time.
And that’s where I want to start, because while there’s a lot about The Climb that’s really impressive, the way that it feels almost like an epic is incredible. Running for less than 100 minutes, most films would struggle to tell a more contained story, let alone one that spans such a long timeframe.
However, as it moves through the years in impressively organic fashion, The Climb is able to bring a greater scale to its story, and as such brings greater stakes and significance to the table as well. The ups and downs of Mike and Kyle’s friendship aren’t just a blip in time, but a major part of their entire lives.
Along with the two fantastic lead performances and excellent writing, you really feel like you know these two characters inside out, and though their relationship may be far from perfect as time goes by, you sympathise strongly with both of them from beginning to end.
Another impressive characteristic of The Climb is its minimalist style. It’s not obnoxiously minimalist like many mumblecore movies, but it’s able to tell a sprawling story of a lifetime without ever following generic tropes of the epic format.
The film is able to pack its story into such a concise runtime because of the way it uses organic dialogue to such great effect throughout. As we jump through time between different vignettes, the screenplay explains what has happened in the last few years or however long with just a couple of words offhand from a character that feels entirely natural to the situation at hand.
There’s no clunky exposition or drawn-out narration, but rather succinct and brilliantly organic dialogue that helps what could have been a regularly abrupt series of time shifts flow so nicely.
That structural flow is also helped by the movie’s camerawork, which pulls the Birdman trick of using long, long, long takes where the camera flies around the characters for minutes on end without a single cut.
The whole movie isn’t a one-shot story like Birdman, but each of its vignettes are more or less made up of a main single shot that lasts for a long time. However, in tandem with its elegant screenplay and flowing structure, that visual style works really nicely, and only adds to the film’s brilliantly organic nature.
The screenplay itself is both funny and touching, with humour that made me laugh on a consistent basis, but that never cheapened the real depth and gravity of the story being told here.
The movie looks at the story of a toxic friendship as a sobering farce, with the almost unrelenting nature of Mike’s terrible behaviour becoming so bad that it’s actually funny. And yet, even when the story seems to be beating you over the head with a rather heavy dose of dark humour, there’s a really touching, positive message at its core.
Finishing on a wonderful high note, The Climb proves that you sometimes have to go through the worst of times to end up in the right place, and its sprawling feel makes that resonate all the more strongly. With excellent performances, gorgeous cinematography, an intelligent and funny screenplay and a brilliantly organic style, it’s an undeniably captivating movie which always has its heart in the right place. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.