The Mountain (2018)

The Mountain
Director: Rick Alverson
Writer: Rick Alverson, Dustin Guy Defa, Colm O’Leary
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jeff Goldblum, Hannah Gross, Denis Lavant, Udo Kier, Larry Fessenden
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 3.11.2018

After Andy (Tye Sheridan) loses his father, his mother having been dead a while already, he is at a loss. That’s when he meets Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum) who specializes on lobotomies for the mentally ill. Fiennes new Andy’s mother and spontaneously offers the teenager a job as his assistant. Andy accepts and they start traveling together as Fiennes moves from hospital to hospital to perform his procedures.

The Mountain is not an easy film, in the best sense. It’s a film that requires work and you’ll probably get as much out of it as you’re willing to work for it. As the second film of the day, it got a bit much for me, but I’m more than willing to give it another go, because there is a lot of interest going on here.

The film poster showing Jeff Goldblum and Tye Sheridan reflected several times as with multiple mirrors.

The Mountain is a film that refuses to be entertaining even for a second (well, Goldblum is rather entertaining as usual, but then again, he plays a character you really don’t want to be entertained by). It’s high-concept and opaque and I completely understand if people don’t find their point of entry to it or if they decide that the film isn’t worth the work it requires.

Luckily, this was not the case for me. There were two things in particular that drew me in about the film and made me willing to go along and to try and puzzle it out. One was Tye Sheridan who is really fantastic and proves the perfect counterpoint to Goldblum’s flamboyant acting and character.

Tye Sheridan and Jeff Goldblum in the film.

The other thing was the film’s aesthetic. It’s somehow empty and minimalist, governed by straight lines and a lack of colors. But the sense of containment that comes with that can’t be sustained, there are moments where this is broken, as there are moments where Andy breaks out – from his position, his distance, his life.

Ultimately, this is a film that speaks about the way people are fitted into (patriarchal, white) society, whether they want to fit or not. It remains questionable how much we can escape this. But that doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to it.

Tye Sheridan and Jeff Goldblum in the film.

Summarizing: Extremely interesting.

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