Review by Camden Ferrell
The Climb had its premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The feature directorial debut from writer/director Michael Angelo Covino also played at the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. This is a one-of-a-kind film that is as unconventional as it is darkly hilarious.
This film follows best friends Mike and Kyle. We see their friendship go through the ups and downs of life over the course of several years, and we watch as they endure love, betrayal, and most of all laughter. This is a simple premise that is executed very well and provides a solid foundation for telling this story.
The script, written by Covino and co-star Kyle Marvin, is deft if nothing else. It is highly competent, fast-paced, and excessively witty. While the dialogue is a lot smarter than one would expect in real-life, it’s a full of fantastic exchanges, one-liners, and relatable moments. It blends its dark humor with a refreshing combination of dramatic and heartwarming moments. It’s a unique script that helps the movie feel fresh and original throughout.
The acting is superb throughout the film. Led by Covino and Marvin, real-life best friends, this film is bursting with great chemistry. From the very fist scene, both of the leads flex their acting chops and play off of one another with surprising skill and ease. They handle the wide variety of tones and situations well, and they have compelling screen presences that make the film much more enjoyable. While Covino and Marvin are the real stars, the film is also supplemented by a proficient supporting cast.
One of the most notable aspects of this film is its commitment to tracking shots and long takes. While some movies use this technique as a gimmick, this film utilizes it to develop characters, situations, and tension. These long takes are masterful, and they typically don’t feel like tracking shots thanks to how engaging the writing and acting is. It’s a flourish that ages well throughout the movie and never feels shallow.
A lot of the success of the aforementioned shots comes from the fantastic direction of Covino. This may be one of the most impressive directorial debuts this year, and it’s a film that is a showcase for his brilliant talent on and off screen. The scenes are blocked very well, and it helps maintain the consistent pace throughout.
Divided into chapters, this movie does a great job of incorporating its themes of love and friendship over this multi-year story. While it’s not perfect, it’s nearly there. It’s a well-told story that will resonate well with audiences. It’s a story that is hilarious and very relatable.
The Climb is a fantastic calling card for Covino, and it is a consistently hilarious portrayal of friendship. It’s quirky and unconventional, but it should easily find a receptive audience that will connect with its hilarious but flawed characters.
The Climb is in theaters November 13.