The Eight Mountains | Fresh Takes

Fresh takes and film reviews from new voices in film.

Abhishek, Amy, Francesco, Harry, Leo & Minnie

15 May 23

Fresh Takes is a space for the latest generation of film lovers to share their views and opinions on some of the great films we are showing at Picturehouse cinemas. 

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Here's some Fresh Takes on THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS, a profoundly moving portrait of a lifelong friendship, set against a truly magnificent Italian landscape.

If you haven't seen it yet, book your tickets here.

Abhishek, 24.

Abhishek is a  Postgraduate student in International Development, living in Bath. He's a passionate cinephile with interest in world cinema.

Abhishek sees cinema as a visual template of moving art, compiled from the brains of a director,  the lens of the cinematographer, and the soul of the screenplay writer. He observes cinema as a form of cultural exchange, and a potential political tool.

Abhishek says...

The Eight Mountains is a deeply woven friendship drama set in the bosom of the Italian Alps. I admire the film for its simplicity, natural spontaneity, and uncompromising conversations.

The filmmaking is quite unique and immersive, taking us closer to the experience of our mountaineer protagonists – their joys and togetherness, the stubborn distance in their feelings, and their struggles with life. 

Filmmakers Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch show a remarkable ability to put human relationships under a microscope with delicacy and intimacy. The screenwriting creates a philosophical song through its narratives, posing questions of existential self-reflection in modern life. 

It's a passionate film; humanistic at heart, bringing justice to each of its contexts. As it weaves its magic, I am sure viewers will experience its ability to shape us and change our worldviews.

The Eight Mountains will remain close to my heart, and must be cherished for its ability to echo and connect with us – to carry us along in its search for meaning.

Amy Saunders, 16

Amy is a student from London who is passionate about filmmaking and cinematography.

Amy says...

Whether perceived as a tender Bildungsroman or a sobering tragedy, The Eight Mountains' raw portrayal of complex families, unpredictable friendships, love and the desire for self-actualisation is highly relatable.

Retrospectively narrated by our Turinese protagonist, city-born-and-bred Pietro, the story reflects on how a long-lasting friendship with Bruno, built over a childhood summer in the Italian Alps, shaped his life.

The film's themes can be read through Pietro and Bruno's contrasting relationships with the mountains: through Bruno's sense of the sublime or Pietro's belief that he will never conquer the peaks like his father, we are given insight into the life lessons they both learn.

Against a backdrop of breathtaking landscape shots, a high-strung and experimental score, and impressive acting, it isn't difficult to become emotionally invested in the paths Bruno and Pietro find themselves going down.

This film shows humanity and nature in all its beauty and bitterness, and despite its 2-hour, 27-minute screen time, every moment feels meaningful. Every line of dialogue, shot and action adds value to the narrative, helping us deeply understand these characters and their motivations.

It leaves a deep impression, like a boot print in a pile of Alpine snow – but I doubt that the weather of life will completely bury the lessons the audience can draw from it.

Francesco, 24.

Francesco is a Film graduate based in London, who specialises in screenwriting and producing.

He looks out for international and independent features that can appeal to an increasingly intersectional young audience, and spends his time watching movies and writing about them on Letterboxd at @Signo.

Francesco says...

Fresh from their win of the Jury Prize this last Cannes, Belgian director-turned-international drama virtuoso, Felix van Groeningen and partner Charlotte Vandermeersch, in her directorial debut, land an emotional monolith of life-lasting friendships, parenthood and beautiful beards.

This time their camera turns to the Italian Alps, with some engrossing shot compositions and striking vistas that, to a local of those very same areas, felt not only nostalgic but genuine. Those mountains also come to feel bigger than life, thanks to a mature drama that never loosened its grip or became predictable throughout its lengthy runtime.

The movie is a display of Italian natural beauties – not just the peaks and lovely cows, but also its performers. Luca Marinelli and Luca Borghi have conquered many hearts since their consecration as two of Italy's best contemporary actors, and it's a treat to see them onscreen together.

The Eight Mountains is a challenging movie, but, much like a mountain hike, it'll give special gratification to those who with a strong yet difficult relationship with home and family, confident globe-trotters, and especially those strong enough to bring their best friends along for the ride. 

Harry Denton, 18.

Harry is an A-Level Student from York, with a keen interest in all kinds of cinema and an ambition to get into the business side of the film industry.

Find more of his reviews on the Letterboxd profile Harry72.

Harry says...

As someone with a love-it or hate-it relationship with slow-burn cinema, the lengthy runtime seemed intimidating at first glance, but I found this to be an incredibly immersive drama. 

One of the key reasons for the immersion is in the title: 'The Eight Mountains'. Cinematographer Ruben Impens has a keen eye and beautifully captures the landscapes of the Italian Alps along with the Himalayas in a frequently breathtaking light which demands to be seen on the big screen. 

But behind those images, writer-directors Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch add real substance, with the powerful heart of a turbulent male friendship at the film's core.

The pair craft believable, likeable characters, as well as using them to depict the clash between an idyllic mountain life and the more monotonous but necessary city life. 

It's a film about finding the balance between following your dreams and settling down and this, alongside a sense of regret, adds a deeper melancholic layer to a complex and well-handled tonal mix. With a calm, well-picked soundtrack behind it, this is a moving and gently powerful epic boosted by mesmerising surroundings. 

Leo, 20.

Leo is a Film Studies Graduate living in London. His love for cinema arose in lockdown, filling free time for weeks on end, and he aspires to a career in film journalism.

Leo says...

The latest from Felix van Groeningen ('Beautiful Boy', 'The Broken Circle Breakdown'), and co-director Charlotte Vandermeersch, is the wonderfully delicate The Eight Mountains. It chronicles the four-decade-spanning friendship of Pietro and Bruno, two Italian companions who test their ever-so-tender admiration atop the peaks of the Aosta mountain region.

A tied winner for the Jury Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, The Eight Mountains excels in its atmospheric build. Of course, the Italian mountain landscape provides great spectacle, characters' hikes and expeditions allowing for many an extreme long shot of the Alps and their grand scale. A somewhat muted colour palette matches the mellow feel of Bruno and Pietro's journey – often bleak and grey-ish at times.

The contradictions between Bruno and Pietro imbues their relationship with an affectionate realism that's entertaining to watch. But while there can be great pleasure derived from their social communion, there is no doubt that the film takes its time in doing so.

At a near 2-and-a-half-hour runtime, Groeningen and Vandermeersch certainly take a patient approach in exploring the humanity of their characters, giving a particularly natural feel to its pacing.

Delicate is the very best way to describe The Eight Mountains, and is worth a watch to remind you of the great essence of a hearty friendship.

Minnie Mertz, 20.

Minnie is a 3rd year English Literature student from Cambridge, is interested in the world of film, theatre, and television writing and production.

Read more of her work at @minniemertz.

Minnie says...

Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch cleverly enable the sweet innocence, and later, revealing mortality, of Paulo Cognetti's literary masterpiece, The Eight Mountains.

Through sublime cinematography of the natural world and lengthy, thoughtful scenes of quaint dialogue, The Eight Mountains portrays a man's pilgrimage of mortality through memory, nostalgia, and friendship. 

The film's tour of Pietro's life from childhood to adulthood, and his fellowship to Bruno, is anything but whistle-stop: the directors have captured each chapter of life with care, imagining a voyage of self-discovery that is sure to persuade audiences of the true vitalities of living.  
The brilliantly simplistic but emotive dialogue transcends genre like Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin, the haunting omnipotence of the mountains evoke the films of Studio Ghibli, and the gentle pacing resembles that of Sally Rooney's Normal People.  
In its adaption to screen, The Eight Mountains deliberates the universal meaning of change and finds its place in the hearts of its viewers as a most beautiful refuge from ignorance.

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