"I'm not good enough for you."
A buddy comedy for the ages, Michael Angelo Covino's The Climb effortlessly takes a simplistic premise and gives it new life by way of stellar writing, fearless acting, and a single tracking shot that will capture your attention like none other.
Beginning on a busier than expected road, we meet Michael and Kyle, two friends, cycling to a supposed cadence, making small talk as one prepares for his upcoming nuptials. As the two begin their ascent, Michael, with ease, Kyle less so, Michael reveals that he has slept with his friend's soon to be wife.
Within seconds, we are introduced to the story, explained the persistent conflict, and witness the impending reaction.
As previously mentioned, on the surface, The Climb is unapologetically straightforward. Split into seven assumed chapters, the film chronicles the relationship between two men as they experience joy, heartache, love, death, and redemption - at times, a direct result of one of their actions.
Much like real life, shit happens. Each man reacts and self-evaluates as we are passively given clues to their individual personalities, slowly peeling back the layers and uncovering the root cause of this seemingly toxic friendship.
Quick-paced, the film rarely gets bogged down in details, instead skimming the surface of several situations as they paint with broad strokes, allowing viewers to see the large scale picture before diving into the emotionally taxing events that make up this unique pairing.
That isn't to say that the film's central storyline isn't rooted in reality. It's quite alarming how relatable both Michael and Kyle are. Kyle, a people pleaser to no end, struggles to connect with his family, a support system that hates his new fiancé and doesn't fully realize the lasting effect Michael's actions have had on him. Michael, alone and lonely, works to keep those in his life at bay, ensuring their dependency on him as he works hard to negate any outside influence and ensure lasting camaraderie.
The two share a rare bond that is never fully explained within the context of the story, and that is okay. Presented like a snapshot that spans several years, the film offers up a series of monumental highlights, each of which provides some degree of clarity to the overall idea.
A family Christmas, positioned towards the beginning of the film, is remarkably shot. Covering the home exterior in its entirety, we catch a series of conversations as we follow the structure's facade, driving home the brilliant storytelling and direction that gives the film its natural, humane feel.
Absent are the slapstick jokes and crude humor that have plagued the genre as of late. In its place are heartwarming moments of admiration and frustration, both of which accumulate to form critical instances that help define a relationship. By all means simple, The Climb sheds some light on the complex relationships between two men. Granted, most women will relate; however, this film doesn't rely on that.