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The Eight Mountains Star on His Visually Stunning New Character Study

May 11, 2023


A Jury Prize winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, The Eight Mountains is based on an acclaimed novel that explores a concept we’ve seen on the big screen over the years: Two main characters, one of whom plummets while the other rises to success. The timeless A Star Is Born tale comes to mind on the Hollywood front when thinking about this idea.

In Janus Films’ The Eight Mountains, however, said concept is virtually flipped on its head and thereby subverts our expectations. The character we initially think will shine is actually the one who perishes. To that end, the new Italian film starring Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden) and Alessandro Borghi (The Hanging Sun) is a success from start to finish.
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Starting on the two leads at a young age, we watch as Bruno (later played by Borghi) befriends the wealthier family of Pietro (Marinelli) during a family vacation in the mountains. Pietro is emotionally conflicted as he feels like a constant disappointment to his adventurous father, who clearly takes a liking to the amicable Pietro. Then, the story unfolds as each character grows up through adolescence and early adulthood while dealing with loss, heartbreak, career uncertainty and more.

Their lives collide once more after a family tragedy, and it is there that Bruno and Pietro commit to a life in the mountains to build a house in honor of the deceased. Due to the two men’s closeness and distinctive demeanors from the get-go, we think we may know where the story is going in terms of “who will be more successful” and “who will fall in love with who” — but the book’s author and film’s co-writer/directors will tell you, “think again.”

Related: Best International-Language Movies of 2022

Real-Life Love for the Mountains

Right off the bat, we gather that the deliberately slow pacing and emotional intensity in The Eight Mountains will ultimately lend itself to a powerful character study. The story is about two boys, who then grow up to become strapping young lads across the film’s two-and-a-half-hour duration. But the end result all started with a groundbreaking Italian novel by Paolo Cognetti.

“Before I met [co-writer-directors] Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch for the first time, I read the book and I completely fell in love with it,” co-star Alessandro Borghi recently told MovieWeb. “After three years, Mario Gianani the producer called me and told me Felix and Charlotte wanted to do the movie. It was great news […] And that moment started one of the most incredible journeys of my life.”

And it was understandably “great news” for an outdoorsy guy like Borghi. The Eight Mountains exposes us to the Italian Alps early on, and it’s safe to say the visuals will astound you. Shooting “on location” never looked so good. For those unfamiliar with the Alps, they are “the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lie in south-central Europe,” according to PBS. Spanning across multiple countries, the picturesque landscapes serve as a beautiful backdrop for such an emotionally powerful film.

Vision DistributionJanus Films

“The Eight Mountains came in my life in a precise moment where I was really falling in love with mountains, with the idea of staying in the mountains, enjoying the moment,” said Borghi, who confirmed that he didn’t mind the crazy altitude while shooting. “Something incredible happened. And it was challenging, yes. But I never felt the sensation of being tired. It was incredible. I never felt tired about that, even though it was really high up.”

Shooting on location for a project like this surely comes with the challenges of maintaining a level of authenticity. For Borghi, however, these challenges paid off in spades, as they allowed him to effectively build his layered, conflicted persona for the finished product. Said Borghi:

The character of Bruno was built up with little pieces of all the people that I met during the journey… A lot of people taught me a lot of stuff, milking cows, making cheese, staying with the cows, and all that stuff, seeing how to manage with the tiring of a mind… the mountains and the walking, the hiking, and all that stuff. So every person that went through this process actually was part of what I put into Bruno.

Blending Reality with Fiction Alongside Luca Marinelli

Vision DistributionJanus Films

Borghi is certainly a recognizable face as the film’s co-star, having starred in past European projects such as Devils (2020-2022) and The First King (2019). And his Eight Mountains partner-in-crime, Luca Marinelli (aka Martin Eden himself), is also a star-in-the-making thanks to his fair share of Hollywood efforts thus far. We’re looking at you, The Old Guard (2020) and Trust (2018). Borghi and Marinelli’s on-screen chemistry in this complex tale — which explores masculinity, intimacy, and more — will captivate you once these actors start gracing the screen in the film’s second act. “We shared one of the greatest experience of our lives seven years ago,” said Borghi. “That completely changed our life now, our perception of the job now, in terms of [our] approach to acting.”

Related: The Eight Mountains Review: In More Than Just a Slice of Life, Idyll and Reality Collide

Performance coaches will tell you “half of acting of reacting,” and in terms of emotional intensity, The Eight Mountains often finds success in its tense scenes between Borghi and Marinelli, where they’re not necessarily saying a whole lot. It’s all in their facial reactions and physical quirks, allowing us time to think about their existence and our own. “It was great because every day, it was really discovering something about the characters but also about us, about our relationship, about how far can a friendship go,” said Borghi, “about the respect of the silence, about how you can feel in a good habitat […] and then choosing the right words when you have to say something. Borghi continued:

And this is really a thing that I think we have in common with the characters, because between Bruno and Pietro, there is something real in their friendship related to how they decide to talk to each other, the moment to talk each other, and how they can understand each other without saying anything. And this is really something that we had to come up with, with the characters. So, something magical happened. At some point, we realized that Bruno’s and Pietro’s lives are a kind of mixing with our lives. And the dimension that we chose to sit together and approach the characters was, every day, so surprising about how much we can feel connected to the reality. And looking ahead, Borghi’s “reality” continues to look promising on the acting front. For his latest project that hasn’t yet been released, he plays the titular role in a Netflix series called Supersex, which is based on the life of Italian pornographic actor Rocco Siffredi. But for now, he’s enjoying family time, having just become a father to a baby boy. “Maybe in September, there’s going to be something good,” said Borghi. “But for right now, we’re just editing the episodes of Supersex, thinking about that, probably to be released in December or January.”

From Wildside, Rufus, Menuetto, and Pyramide Productions, in collaboration with Elastic Distribution, The Eight Mountains will open in Los Angeles on May 5 courtesy of Vision Distribution and Janus Films, and you can find showtimes and listings here.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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