The Mountain

The Mountain
The Mountain
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Let’s get this out of the way- The Mountain is strange, with a bizarre mystery that remains unexplained. Many people would find that a deal breaker, but for those who are inquisitive or adventurous and comfortable with enigma, there is much to love about this movie. The filmmaker Thomas Salvador also stars as Pierre, a mid-aged Parisian businessman who decides to go to Alps as part of his midlife crisis. To begin with he called in sick but found himself getting more attracted by something unknown deep into the mountains until he left his job and life behind in Paris just so that he could live on glaciers.

Appropriately enough, The Mountain is beautifully shot, capturing both the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Alps and paradoxical tranquility alongside danger under extreme conditions of nature. At times wordless and almost like an observational nature documentary posing as character study on one hand yet bursting into emotional resonance when Pierre meets a chef at one of the mountain lodges and they connect without words.

The Mountain similarly ventures into eccentric allegory territory which sometimes brings 2001: A Space Odyssey to mind if it was a contemporary French romance. However, while all these strangeness have been explored they haven’t been truly explained leaving audience thinking over what it all might mean. If you can live within that ambiguity then The Mountain will be an incredibly beautiful, creepy and highly iconoclastic piece that deserves your attention.

Thomas Salvador has blended genres very nicely here. One of his cute little films from last year (2017) called Vincent follows a comic yet insecure superhero who only becomes such once water touches him. However it hardly resembles any typical superhero movies either; instead we are given surreal fantasies in this film set amid slightly abstract backdrops allowing us see right through them into character studies or romantic dramas.

Salvador delivers a dry but physical performance as Pierre, chief employee at some robotics firm instantly moving away from everything to settle on a glacier in the Alps and start hill climbing. This never gets explained even when his mother and brothers come visiting and pleading with him to move out.

Salvador simply buries his motives into his eyes. There is something quite obsessive about him. It could be that he wants to go as far away from modernity as possible; or, perhaps he’s embarking on mountaineering for a slow suicide (a.k.a., witnessing his own death gradually). Or maybe there is some voice calling him out there.

Freudian sense of a death drive mostly explains it all. Even after being hauled off the mountain by hypothermia, he sneaks the hell out of his hospital room just so he can return over there one more time. Much of this obsession becomes tangible in a literal way. Pierre begins to have visions of lights in the mountains, something glowing beneath snow and under every rock. From afar along the mountainside go these taillights, orange and red lights resembling car lamps at nightfall. Is Pierre going insane? What is in the mountains?

Well, it’s really up to you. Things are clearly seen glowing in those mountains and sometimes played around with, even if they seem trippy but we don’t get any expositions that would officially explain them depending on various audiences’ perspective, The Mountain could be an allegory for climate change, suicidal ideation, quests for meaning or many others things today’s man may face everyday

As beautiful as Bourgoin’s portrayal is in The Mountain, it remarkable how she manages to flesh out a character with much less time and speech than the usual love interest in a romance movie. She is an efficient single mother who excels at her job and is self-confident, not forgetting that she is also very attractive. On the surface, Léa seems like the carefree type of woman, except that Pierre with his salt-and-pepper hair, kind eyes and preoccupied nature doesn’t appear to be her type; nevertheless their connection and warmth are unmistakable and melts snow.

While just as enigmatic as the mountains’ pull on Pierre, The Mountain will probably have an equal attraction for people who enjoy snow, solitude and reposing in boredom. This film immerses you in a specific place both physically and mentally. Those few oddball individuals who dream of going to Antarctica or climbing Everest by themselves may find their next favorite film was The Mountain.

For everyone else prepared to tolerate some abstraction or unexplained plot points, they should surely delight in its stunning cinematography as well as sweet romanticism tinged with whimsy. The Mountain feels like something an introverted fellow would imagine during existential crisis but it’s more than that. In case if imagery does not impress you or even allegory, then give The Mountain a chance because it might stay with you forever.

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