OK – I confess that I bought tickets for the The Climb on the basis that it probably had some kind of cycling theme about it. The film has grown out of the first scene which is indeed set on a pair of bikes. Mike and Kyle (Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin who co-wrote the film, with Corvino directing) are two American friends in their late thirties or perhaps early forties. We find them on the Cote d’Azure, Mike a keen cyclist and Kyle something of a newbie. Mike is trying to pace Kyle to the top of a climb. They’re doing some male bonding. Kyle is engaged, and Mike is to be the best man.
Except Mikes shares with Kyle the fact that he has slept with his wife to be. Initially before the pair were going out, but that did sort of continue. An enraged Kyle pedals harder – “Keep your cadence up Kyle” – wanting to take it out on his… friend?
As will become clear, Mike has certain self-destructive tendencies. These are made clear when he ends up at the losing end of a fight with a French driver, and ends up in hospital where Kyle even manages to catch Mike kissing his fiancée.
The film then progresses in a series of scenes over the following few years, as we visit and revisit the pair’s relationship.
I should mention at this point that this film is a comedy. And has as someone who’s largely rejected most mainstream US comedy movies (although there are great US TV comedies – for example, Succession while not strictly speaking a comedy, frequently has me in stitches), this film is very funny.
The film also engages in very long single takes. That opening scene, climbing up that hill, was clearly done for real, the actors cycling uphill and delivering their lines for several minutes. No mean feat. Although that pales into insignificance compared with an ice-fishing scene in which Kyle ends up really going into the water through a hole in the ice. In a post-screening Q&A, co-writer and actor Kyle Marvin told us that he had to shoot that sequence multiple times, needing a hot bath to bring himself back up to temperature before being able to do another shot.
Later in the story we meet Marissa (Gayle Rankin), who becomes Kyle’s new fiancée despite being universally disliked by Kyle’s family for dumping him when he was in high school. Her character creates a certain grit between the main two protagonists.
Overall a welcome entertainment and a realistic look at a certain kind of male friendship. Not all are as destructive as this one, but there are certainly traits.
NB. This isn’t the film of a similar name that you can find on Netflix. It’s getting a UK release at the start of 2020.