Some obvious drone shots are included, but much of the hiking sequences appear to have been done with Steadicams, following the men through their treacherous treks. Andrea Rauccio is listed as the Steadicam operator, but the credits for camera operators are long, and the entire crew deserves credit. There are times when the camera is so far back that all you see is an entire expanse of white, with a tiny person trekking across the blinding snow. It may be a cliche to say the mountains are the third main character in the film, but it’s the truth.
The mountains are important. Time is given to allow us to soak up the atmosphere, and to get to know the familiar slopes in different weathers, at dawn, dusk, winter, and summer. Swedish composer Daniel Norgren’s score is a huge contribution. Music plays almost throughout, sometimes a long keening note, with muffled percussion underneath, creating an eerie, lonely feeling. There are songs, too, utilized to smooth over the passage of time. The film works cumulatively. There is conflict on occasion, but it’s not the driving force. Lifelong friendships aren’t made up of intense highs and lows. They’re made up of time spent, of being mindful and thoughtful towards your friend and ensuring to stay in touch, even with the distance between them.
The friendship feels real, and this is crucial. The film wouldn’t work without it. There are depths to be plumbed, and the film takes the time to do so. There are relationships with parents, women, finances, and big questions like: What should I do with my life? Am I on the right path? “The Eight Mountains” is a reminder of how rare it is to see a film about male friendship that doesn’t involve crime or hangover-like shenanigans. Some people have a wide circle of friends. Others have just one good friend, the friend with whom you cannot hide, the friend with whom it is always easy: even the fights won’t threaten the bond. Maybe a friendship like this has to start in childhood, before you know better before you squint at people trying to “vet” them. Children say to each other, “Wanna play?” with no other words necessary. If Bruno and Pietro met for the first time as adult men, it might not have happened. We become closed off, set in our ways, and cautious of others.
“The Eight Mountains,” and its dedication to the slow rhythms of Bruno and Pietro’s friendship, call to mind the famous final lines of William Butler Yeats’ poem The Municipal Gallery Revisited:
Think where man’s glory most begins and ends
And say my glory was I had such friends.
Now playing in theaters.