The Climb (4 stars)

The Climb

A bromance is put to the test in this hilarious comedy from Michael Angelo Covino

A friendship bends badly out of shape but stops short of breaking in this funny, eccentric and distinctively shot American comedy. It's a collaboration between Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin, with the former on directing duties – making his feature debut – and the pair penning the screenplay and assuming the lead roles themselves. Their natural chemistry and compelling bickering propel this battered relationship through some seriously challenging times.

An expansion of Covino's 2018 short, The Climb is separated into chapters which each mark a significant point in the men's adult lives. With its roving camerawork emphasising the film as a journey through these landmarks, we first encounter Mike and Kyle (Covino and Marvin, playing their namesakes) mid cycle ride, as an admittedly out-of-shape Kyle puffs and pants his way up the steep inclines of France. With Kyle struggling to keep up as he gushes about his impending wedding, it's then that Mike decides to confess that he's been sleeping with Kyle's fiancée. The ensuing fallout is priceless. A funeral, a disastrous Christmas, another awkward holiday, and a wedding are all to come.

A festival circuit favourite (it's played to acclaim at Cannes, Toronto and Sundance, amongst many others), The Climb combines a laidback, rambling, pretty deadpan vibe with a gift for absurdity and a number of flamboyant diversions (musical numbers, eye-catching elderly skiers). Its kinetic visual style is often utilised brilliantly for comedy: people disappear and re-emerge from shot, inevitably after something disastrous has occurred; Mike is excitingly pursued into what promises to be an excellent bust-up; or when the camera tracks across the rooms of Kyle's family home during the festive season, peeping through windows to capture the awkwardness of Mike's entrance, whilst managing to act as a heat-seeker for an amusing number of bitchy comments.

It's a touching, enjoyably ridiculous depiction of what amounts to a stubborn, brotherly bond; relationships come and go, circumstances change, and waistlines expand, but these men are each other's constant. Whether they want to be or not.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 23 Oct.

The Climb

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 34min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Michael Angelo Covino
  • Cast: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin, Gayle Rankin

Drama about the enduring friendship between two men, which hits a speed bump when one sleeps with the other's fiancee.