The Eight Mountains

Like a cup of fresh mountain air.

People suffers from altitude sickness if they go higher on the mountains, but there’s plenty of oxygen in “The Eight Mountains.” Husband and wife filmmakers Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch both present a complex relationship between two friends, who meet and go their separate ways in their youth, reunite in their adulthood, and have their own personal aspects on what nature can provide.

This is one of the best Italian films I have seen in terms of its character development and radiant scenery. And looking at these mountains is remarkable in every way possible, especially during the winter and spring. Each shot of the mountains is gorgeously photographed and the ambiance allows us to see them for what they are. But it isn’t just about the looks, but rather the life directions of the following main characters who are perfectly played by both adults and kids.

The movie begins with young Pietro (Lupo Barbiero) going on vacation in the Italian Alps with his parents, and meeting the only boy Bruno (Cristiano Sassella), who resides there and shares the same age with him. They spend a summer together, but it comes crashing down when Bruno leaves to work with his father, while Pietro must focus on his studies, but becomes a negative Nancy who doesn’t have any goals.

Years later, they both reunite after Pietro’s father passed away. A while ago, he asked Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) to promise him that he’d fix up a damaged cabin the old man left for his son in the mountains. Pietro (Luca Marinelli) is reluctant, but agrees to help when the snow melts. They manage to reconnect during their hard work, while continuing to admire the gorgeous scenery, as much as we are.

There are various stages in their lives, like how Bruno starts a family, but is more interested in the mountains, while Pietro visits various places and narrates about his life. Marinelli’s voice really sets the mood and tone, especially when he tells about the highs and lows in his story.

Based on Paolo Tognetti’s novel, “The Eight Mountains” is a human film that doesn’t just rely on the looks, but also the feels. And there are characters who see things in their own lights and never take the easy ways out. Parts of the childhood can be a bit much, but they’re better than how Banks Repta had to cry and order Chinese food against his parents’ wishes in “Armageddon Time.” In fact, they have more maturity in these kids than that kid.

And the difference is that “The Eight Mountains” is an international film, while “Armageddon Time” is an American film. That’s means there’s patience and balance within the filmmaking. And it never settles for anything obvious. It’s a real reflection on life.

But more magic and humanity comes when we enter adulthood, when the friends fix up the cabin and acknowledge each other’s lives. Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch both guide Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi with truth and emotions, and they couldn’t be more sincere. And it may be a long movie, but we still need to see how their lives turn out. And I may be annoying you by saying how radiant these mountains are, but each shot of them matters.

See “The Eight Mountains” for the mountains and the men.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Now Playing in Select Theaters

Categories: Drama, Foreign

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