The Eight Mountains is a sentimental ode to those singular friendships we make in our lives, the kind that can’t be severed by any amount of distance, physical or temporal. Even when there’s so much left unsaid, it’s the comfort they find in each other that resonates most.
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What sets The Eight Mountains apart is the degree to which co-directors van Groeningen and Vandermeersch strip away so much pretense and artifice, leaving nothing but a strong central question: What makes and prevents people from meaningfully connecting? The filmmakers then strike a refreshingly unsentimental tone when answering it.
It’s a pleasurable enough watch — nicely acted and with a gentle rhythm tuned to the main characters’ searching paths as they drift in and out of each other’s lives over 30 years — though ultimately, it lacks weight.
Stately and serene from a distance, but up close riven with the fissures and follies of a friendship that costs both men so much but gives them even more, the movie, too, is a mountain.
This is the rare movie that understands how tied we are to the physical and psychological spaces of childhood, how our families and the traditions they raised us with can be both nurturing and limiting.
This film has mystery and passion, it climbs mountainous heights and rewards you with the opposite of vertigo: a sort of exaltation.
It’s a fairly conventional, risk-averse piece of filmmaking, but the film’s gentle, meandering story works its way to a conclusion which plays out in a minor key, suggesting that certain cycles are hard to break and that even a seemingly idyllic life comes at a cost.