Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Movie review: The Mountain

© Kino Lorber
Jeff Goldblum is an eccentric lobotomist in “The Mountain”
by Justin Moore

I’ve been impressed with Rick Alverson’s work since I saw The Comedy starring Tim Heidecker in college. He followed that film up with Entertainment which starred Gregg Turkington, John C. Reilly, and Tye Sheridan. Alverson’s movies isolate the main character in a new setting, which is one of the reasons I love The Comedy and Entertainment so much. Plus, they have Tim and Eric, so that is a bonus. In Rick Alverson’s newest film, The Mountain, Tye Sheridan plays Andy, an introverted young man, who joins a renowned lobotomist (Jeff Goldblum) on a tour to promote the doctor’s procedures.

Tye Sheridan’s Andy has suffered a lot. His father, who is a figure skating teacher, suddenly passed away on the ice rink, leaving Andy alone since his mother has been absent his whole life. Sheridan navigates through the movie with a blank face, which could be off-putting to some, but his somber performance is a realistic approach to someone who has dealt with a lot in their life and is experiencing new unsettling things. I was wondering if Sheridan was going to remain expressionless throughout the film, but everything he was going through was boiling within him and he let it all out towards the end of the film which led to a dramatic ending.

Jeff Goldblum gives an eccentric performance as Dr. Wallace Fiennes. As Andy and Dr. Fiennes travel from hospital to hospital, we get to see a much more outlandish side to the doctor. He often dances in his motel room, something that isn’t odd to see from Goldblum, but seeing Wally outside of the hospital setting gives more complexity to his character. His procedures are not often shown, but the effects it has on his patients is eerie to watch. What is ever more eerie is how Dr. Fiennes takes pride in his work.

This isn’t a film about the horror of lobotomy and one man trying to lobotomize as many people as he could, but instead it deals with the effect lobotomy had on people and how people were blind to the idea of it. The Mountain also deals with what can happen to an individual who is exposed to people getting lobotomized and feelings they may develop. This all goes back to Tye Sheridan’s fantastic performance and his constant exposure finally caught up to him.

I loved how Alverson filmed the movie. His scenes are gorgeous to look at and how he frames his scenes is impressive. He knows the right time to cut to another scene or when to let a scene simmer. Sometimes the film can get a bit awkward, but he films it in such way that it that it seems beautiful. As the film progresses towards its ending, we meet Jack, an unconventional French healer, who requests a lobotomy for his daughter Susan. Jack (Denis Lavant) gives an all-out performance while he watches over patients who have been lobotomized. It almost seems like Jack should have been lobotomized himself.

Rick Alverson is a talented director. This film clearly tells me that he a master at filming long drawn-out sequences that intensify the scene. His constant gorgeous shots allow for some beauty in such a dark film. Alverson’s craft reminds me a lot of Yorgos Lanthimos, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

© Kino Lorber

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