When Kyle goes on a bike ride across the South of France with his lifelong friend Mike, he never imagined being dealt a bombshell of a confession: Mike has been sleeping with his fiancé.
It’s a simple set-up that could have developed into a cookie-cutter buddy comedy about man-child friendships and easy redemption. Instead, in the hands of co-writer/director/star Michael Angelo Covino, we are treated to a smart and honest comedy about co-dependence, one that’s miles away from the tried-and-tested fare that’s been dished out countless times before. The self-aware script makes the most of the confessional premise and refreshingly shuns the typical tropes of buddy comedies. The packaging follows suit by also eschewing what we’d come to expect from the genre: Covino dexterously utilises time jumps and choreographs single takes that not only heighten the slapstick potential of certain scenes, but potently explore the fragile masculinities at the heart of this story.
As a tragicomedy, it’s a surreal morality play that benefits from both its elliptical storytelling and the brilliant chemistry shared between Covino and co-writer/star Kyle Marvin. As a directorial debut, this is a calling card worth keeping – The Climb is a rare treat that manages to tackle the complicated bonds of friendship in an engaging, hilarious, yet surprisingly poetic way.
The Climb / Directed by Michael Angelo Covino (US, 2019), with Kyle Marvin, Michael Angelo Covino, Gayle Rankin. Starts August 20.