The Climb (2019)

In original, smart buddy comedy movie The Climb co-writer/directors Kyle Marvin and Michael Angelo Covino play two losers also called Kyle and Mike.

Life is an Uphill Struggle

by Alexa Dalby

The Climb

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

We first see Kyle and Mike panting in a long take as they struggle to cycle up a hill in France in a holiday together before Kyle’s wedding to Ava (Judith Godrèche). Unfortunately, Mike chooses this moment to tell Kyle that he’s been sleeping with Ava. And thus their love/hate relationship continues through a series of episodes in their lives – married, unmarried, the dynamic between them and their relative success or failure in life seesawing wildly as the years pass.

There’s some nice droll observational detail and some really interesting inventive direction and camera work. Sometimes the camera seems to glide effortlessly through their lives as it pans across typical US family gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year and life events such as a funeral and a wedding. There’s tears, comedy and sentimentality and an over-reliance on slapstick. Clearly Kyle and Mike are playing to their comedy personas – Kyle is put-upon good guy and Mike is the manipulative asshole – and they have great comedy rapport. But , as the missteps, disasters and the hurts mount up, to a non-male person it seems more like a study in toxic masculinity than friendship. And after the brilliant uphill cycling scene at the start, it’s all downhill – albeit gradually – from then on.

The Climb premiered at Sundance, in Europe at the Cannes Film Festival 2019, screened at the BFI London Film Festival 2019 and is released on 23 October 2020 in the UK.