The Climb takes an amusing look at the ups and downs of friendship. Director Michael Angelo Covino shares writing and acting duties with his real-life buddy Kyle Marvin, exploring the dynamics of a relationship that survives many years despite two men’s’ hugely different approaches to life.
Playing best friends since high school, Mike and Kyle’s bonds go through intense stages exacerbated by the disparities in their personalities. A narcissist, Mike repeatedly demonstrates insensitive behavior that should destroy friendship. But, as one of the nicest, gentlest of men, Kyle puts up with more than most people can tolerate, especially since Mike’s insights and concerns often prove true.
Covino and Marvin play against movie conventions and present the life of their characters’ friendship in twelve segments, separated as chapters. Director Covino risks shooting scenes in long takes, with a memorable opening as the two friends make the title’s literal climb on bicycles up a hilly highway in France. Later moving to New York, The Climb ends in circular fashion with the friends back on bikes.
While starting and ending with a similar action proves a traditional and enlightening technique for storytelling, most of The Climb avoids customary comedy cliches. Mike and Kyle’s “bromance” feels like one pulled from life rather than scripted for comedians who rely on pratfalls and jokes. The Climb gets its laughs with low key surprises. Subtle, yet complicated, these interactions prove humorous, revealing, and oddly uplifting.
The Climb struggles amidst challenging competition, using a low budget and no recognizable stars. It conquers these limitations with a fresh and sincere take on meaningful aspects of everyday life. The movie opened on the film festival circuit with screenings at Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance.Delayed by Covid-19 from its March release, The Climb just opened in local theaters.