An epic journey of friendship and self-discovery set in the breathtaking Italian Alps, The Eight Mountains follows over four decades the profound, complex relationship between Pietro and Bruno.
‘The Eight Mountains’ is an Italian movie about two lifelong friends who reconnect as adults after growing up together in a remote village amidst the beauty of the Italian Alps. It is directed by Belgian filmmakers Felix van Groeningen (who directed the excellent ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ and the less excellent ‘Beautiful Boy’) alongside Charlotte Vandermeersch, and it carries some pedigree having won awards at Cannes and the top prize at the David di Donatello awards (i.e. the Italian Oscars). It is a slow and meditative movie about friendship and nature with a hint of spirituality, set against the wonderful setting of the rugged Alpine mountains. If you’ve seen the trailer you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an Italian take on ‘Brokeback Mountain’, but it is really about male friendship.
Pietro and Bruno first meet as children, when Pietro’s mother rents a house in the small village of Grana in the Italian Alps. Being the only kids in the village, they immediately bond and spend their days together, often going hiking with Pietro’s father Giovanni, who fuels the passion they will develop for the outdoors which will ultimately draw them back to Grana later in life. Their lives have developed in different ways since they last met but when they meet again in their 30s, they find a shared passion in building a small house on a slope with materials left behind by Giovanni, and for a time their friendship is back as it was. Bruno is reluctant to leave his hometown, but Pietro travels to Nepal where he learns of the concept of ‘The Eight Mountains’ (taken from Buddhism and ancient Indian cosmology), which describes (a little too) neatly their differing outlooks on life.
There is much to like about ‘The Eight Mountains’ but I did find it a little too slow paced and lacking in drama for much of the runtime, which diminished the powerful moments that are scattered throughout as we follow the peaks and troughs in Pietro and Bruno’s friendship. It is gorgeous to look at (it’d be hard not to be with that stunning backdrop) and has a really brilliant score from Daniel Norgren, who is certainly a name I’ll be checking out in more detail, but at nearly 2 and a half hours I felt it did outstay its welcome a little bit.
Directed By: Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch
Starring: Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi, Filippo Timi, Elena Lietti, Elisabetta Mazzullo, Surakshya Panta, Lupo Barbiero, Andrea Palma, Cristiano Sassella, Francesco Palombelli