Thursday, November 12, 2020

Their friendship is ... well ... complicated

    Few things are worse than a movie that tries to be quirky, say a bromance that presents itself in discreetly titled chapters, I'm Sorry and Let Go, for example. And how about a movie that  occasionally stops the story in its tracks for odd musical interludes? 
    But damn if the approach doesn't work in The Climb, a movie that's loopy in all the best ways, which means that it travels its own peculiar path while examining the often subversive intricacies of male friendship.
      The Climb centers on two long-time pals, Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin). When the movie opens, the two are biking up a hill in France. They huff, puff, and have the conversation that will spin the movie's comic wheels.
     Mike tells Kyle that he's sleeping with Kyle's fiancee, a revelation that turns over the fertile psychological turf  from which the movie draws its depth.  Mike always seems intent on testing his friendship with Kyle in ways that can be cruel. He specializes in sabotaging Kyle's relationships with women.
    Long after his movie-opening engagement has gone kaput, Kyle is poised to marry Marissa (Gayle Rankin). That means we're waiting to see whether Mike again can ruin his friend's chance for happiness.
     Written by Covino and Martin, the script places Mike and Kyle in a variety of situations that bring the two men into sharp focus. Kyle's a nice guy who has difficulty saying "no" to anything.  Mike can't seem to restrain his deviousness
      Covino, who directs, even manages to pull off a holiday gathering without sinking the movie. And there aren't many comedies that successfully could pause to listen to a group of workers in a cemetery sing or stage a bachelor party that involves ice fishing or ... well ... that's enough of a sampler.
     Funny, perceptive, and unafraid to speak in its own voice, The Climb marks a true cinematic refreshment. It's not always easy to predict where it's headed and Covino employs a variety of inventive visual techniques, long single shots that require the actors to precisely hit their marks.
     The Climb builds its comedy around two unlikely guys who you may not always like but who play an engagingly oddball duet in which they're irrevocably linked -- friends to the end, but always with some kind of price to pay.

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