Michael Angelo Covino has been a producer on several films. The Climb is his first go at directing a full feature. It's quite clear that he's picked up a lot of pointers from directors he's previously worked with. This is an incredible debut worth anyone's time.
The Climb opens on the beautiful hills of Southern France. Here we see Mike and Kyle struggling to cycle up some very unappealing hills. They're discussing Kyle's upcoming wedding. Then, cutting Kyle off completely, Mike admits that he's been sleeping with his fiancée. The rest of the film follows the two once best friends as the pair try to reconcile and repair the damage that has been done. Many antics ensue but the film also tackles some quite deep topics.
Covino's feature debut is a beautifully crafted film. Especially for what is essentially a romantic comedy. Let's be honest, when you think of films like Bridesmaids and Love Actually, your first thought isn't how well they're shot. That is not the case for The Climb. Though the film is shot in a lot of beautiful locations, there are many that could be quite drab and boring. The cinematography prevents you from thinking this. Average houses spark with vibrant colour and make you wish you lived there.
The real achievement of the filmmaking however is the way in which scenes are shot. Every single scene is done in one take. It is done seamlessly. There are several scenes in which you'll be confused about how the cuts were disguised. But there are also one or two scenes where it's clear how it was done, it just seems impossibly difficult to have been pulled off. Especially given the fact there were undoubtedly multiple takes. The aforementioned opening cycling scene that goes on for about ten minutes is one example.
A comedy can't get away with just being incredibly pretty, however. It obviously needs to be funny. The Climb has you covered on that point as well. Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin (who co-wrote the film with Covino) have fantastic chemistry, not just with each other but with the various love interests and family members that appear throughout. You really believe these two as a pair who have known and loved each other for a very long time. This, admittedly, is probably because they actually have done exactly that.
The Climb isn't just a comedy though. It can be very serious and sombre when it wants to be. Tackling topics such as mental health through traumas like grief and divorce isn't something to make light of generally. This never feels like a balancing act of tone. The film basically feels very real, everything from the writing, acting, and directing helps toward that.
The Climb is a film that will definitely boost Michael Angelo Covino's showreel. The film isn't without its faults. There are some jokes that don't quite land and some odd moments without much explanation. Nevertheless, be sure to keep a lookout for the names Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin in the near future.
Dir: Michael Angelo Covino
Scr: Michael Angela Covino, Kyle Marvin
Cast: Michael Angela Covino, Kyle Marvin, Gayle Rankin, Judith Godreche
Prd: Michael Angelo Covino, Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin
DoP: Zach Kuperstein
Music: Martin Mabz, Jon Natchez
Runtime: 98 mins
The Climb is available to Download from 15th Feb