Adapted from Paolo Cognetti’s novel “Le Otto Montagne” The 147-minute meditation on friendship begins with some verve: Pietro (Lupo Barbiero), a lonely boy from Milan, arrives with his family to Italy’s mountainous Aosta Valley for the summer. There he meets local boy, Bruno (Cristiano Sassella), who unlike the middle-class Pietro, hails from a farming family. The two boys quickly bond: They run through the lush verdant fields and the thrumming streams while the songs of Swedish singer-songwriter Daniel Norgren (who features heavily, oftentimes too heavily on this soundtrack) accompanies their frollicking.
While the first half “The Eight Mountains” features the visual acumen of Terrence Malick mixed with whimsy of Wes Anderson, the second half, which jumps into the future, first capturing the boys’ teenage years, then their wandering adult years, lags in pacing and interest. A slacker, Pietro allowed his father to die while the two were estranged. Now he’s returned to the mountain, meeting up with Bruno again to complete a house his mountain climbing father always wanted as his summer home.
Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi portray the adult Pietro and Bruno, respectively, and the two great actors move heaven and earth to give this film some kind of meaning. But Groeningen and Vandermeersch have crafted a banal picture too afraid to act on its queer subtext, too vast to give any of the women rich inner lives, and too congenial to imbue any drama between Pietro and Bruno. Instead, it’s a really nice friendship between two men on display who feel as though they’re caught in liminal spaces, between being mountain men and cityfolks, but never elevating that theme to a deep emotional space.
Sometimes a movie can be uncomplicated, but it at least needs to be interesting. “The Eight Mountains,” especially in its hackneyed conclusion, is an epic, long, slow bore without any desire to explore the human soul lurking beneath the words left unsaid.
Rwandan director Kivu Ruhorahoza fourth feature film, “Father’s Day,” patiently and artfully wades through the waters of patriarchal power and generational trauma to offer a sprawling narrative that somehow never loses its deft sense of intimacy.