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Based on Paolo Cognetti's 2016 novel, The Eight Mountains is a sweeping story covering four decades in the lives of Pietro (played as a child by Lupo Barbiero, as an adolescent by Andrea Palma and as an adult by Luca Marinelli) and his friend Bruno (played by Cristiano Sassella, Francesco Palombelli and Alessandro Borghi, respectively). Bruno is a resident of Grana, a descendant of the mountain people. He and Pietro strike up an immediate friendship, but a crucial factor separates them: Bruno cannot leave the mountains. He does not fit in modern society. So he builds his homes with his hands, makes cheese the way his ancestors did and lives his life according to the cadences of nature. Not so with Pietro the wanderer. He is as comfortable climbing the peaks surrounding Grana as he is walking the streets of Nepal.
Written and directed by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch, The Eight Mountains follows the form of a novel more than the propulsion of a film. That's not to say The Eight Mountains isn't one of the more visually striking and engaging watches you'll see (it is) but to point out that the narrative feels looser than the average movie, less focused on the destination.
That's because van Groeningen and Vandermeersch treat Pietro and Bruno as two threads intertwined. Bruno is the product of an abusive household, one that drove him from his drunken father into the arms of Pietro's parents (Filippo Timi and Elena Lietti) around the same time Pietro decided to leave and strike out on his own. That makes Bruno and Pietro more like brothers than old friends. Then the father dies, and Bruno takes Pietro up the mountain and shows him where the old man wanted to build a home. Bruno is still going to build it, and Pietro will help.
They do, and life goes on. In the summer, the men return to the house and track the passage of time. Pietro begins to understand his father, and the paths Bruno and Pietro walk begin to diverge. Yet, the cabin calls them back: the center of their lives that, for the moment, still holds.— Michael Casey, The Boulder Weekly
Sun September 10, 2:00 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium
Belgium, France, Italy, United Kingdom; 2022; in Nepali, English, Italian; 147 min
Screenplay: Felix van Groeningen, Director: Felix van Groeningen, Screenplay: Charlotte Vandermeersch, Director: Charlotte Vandermeersch, Novel: Paolo Cognetti, Script Editor: Mirella Cheeseman, Cast: Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi, Lupo Barbiero