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The Crack Magazine


The Eight Mountains

Director: Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

Stars: Allesandro Borghi, Luca Marinelli, Filippo Timi, Cristiano Sassella, Lupo Barberio, Elena Lietti

This sublimely melancholy picture from Belgian directors Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch, based on Paolo Cognetti’s novel, chronicles the friendship between two Italians from boyhood to disillusioned middle age. It begins in the 80s with twelve-year-old middle-class boy Pietro (Barberio) on holiday from Turin with his parents Giovanni (Timi) and Francesca (Lietti) in the Italian Alps. There he meets Bruno (Sassella) the son of a brutish cow herder. Surprisingly, the two bond immediately, despite their differing upbringings. Complications occur however when Pietro’s family return the next year, and 

Pietro’s father, impressed by Bruno after the boy accompanies them on a trip to the mountains, offers to take him back to Turin and pay for his education. Offended, Bruno’s father takes his son away insisting he goes into building work. Nevertheless the friendship endures into adulthood and when Pietro (Marinelli) returns fifteen years later to build a stone cottage on land he has inherited, Bruno (Borghi), now a proud ‘montanaro’ (mountain man) insists on helping him. Over an expansive two-hours-forty running time, the filmmakers elegantly chart the ebb and flow of the men’s relationship. There’s no melodrama here, just a moving account of how relationships are moulded and weathered by time, traditions and circumstances. The leads exhibiting a real lived-in rapport are both excellent, while cinematographer Ruben Impens’ rendering of the Alpine environs, despite the curious decision to film in the boxy Academy ratio, is gorgeous.