Sundance 2023: The Eight Mountains

Directed by: Felix van Groeningen & Charlotte Vandermeersch
Distributed by: Janus Films

Written by Taylor Baker


“The Eight Mountains” captures the intimacy of long-term friendship in moments of blistering turbulence and abstract stillness. The film begins with young Bruno and Pietro forging their lifelong friendship out of a shared experience as children over a summer in a mountain village. The film slowly progresses surreptitiously from both being boys to men, traversing careers, and moving to new places without drawing attention through the editing or filmmaking that they’re going through anything significant in either of their lives. The change in locale and circumstance accentuates the intimacy built by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch early, about who these two individuals are and how despite everything changing around them they remain at their core the same boys. 

The two young men hand build a cabin on the mountainside where they forge a promise to see each other every summer. But life changes, as they pursue meaning in their own ways. Pietro, in the cities at first; and Bruno, in the mountains always. The film gradually begins to slide into an undercurrent of melancholy as Pietro–who we largely view the story from the perspective of–begins to roam the Himalayas leaving behind the mountains that joined he and Bruno together before they became men. As with many lasting friendships, the two would go months or longer without speaking to one another before seamlessly reconnecting. And it is the unartificial presentation of that relationship, the lines Pietro delivers in the latter half as he wonders about what memories mean without the other person, and if places remain the same when half of those who conjured the memory are gone that cause the most resonance.

“The Eight Mountains” is a slow-churning naturalist tale about a city boy and mountain boy defining intimacy, friendship, and an unconditional bond.

“The Eight Mountains” Trailer

“The Eight Mountains” was screened as part of the 2023 edition of the Sundance Film Festival.

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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