What would you do for love? Or in this case the question should be, what would you give up for love? For Kyle (Kyle Marvin) it seems to be his dignity, often his pride but always his sense of peace as he chooses to, is encouraged to and is sometimes outright pushed to, maintain a friendship with the self-destructive Mike (Michael Angelo Covino).
Director (Covino himself) settles on an enjoyably slow pace to tell the narrative of this one-sided friendship. A friendship that does indeed feel like a laborious uphill climb, with Kyle shouldering the weight of the self-loathing baggage Mike so kindly brings with him.
The story starts off with deception and betrayal as Mike admits to sleeping with Kyle’s fiancé Ava (Judith Godréche) placing a strain on their relationship. Things worsen when Mike and Ava pursue a relationship which culminates in marriage, leading to a temporary severing of ties.
Sadly (or karmically) life doesn’t pan out the way Mike intends and after a brief spell of happiness he is thrown into a bit of a slump. By comparison Kyle does all that he can to improve his set of circumstances always, seemingly, the most successful without Mike in the picture (but only marginally so).
As Mike falls in and out of Kyle’s life, the slow telling of this story feels all the more necessary to help unpack the reasons why they are able to reclaim some semblance of a friendship time and time again, despite its toxicity.
Covino takes a stab at comedy with subtle one-liners that would usually pack the intended punch if the film wasn’t already shrouded sympathy. Instead you wind up feeling sorry for the comedic target, usually Kyle.
The Climb has an edge of frustration as you will for a better outcome for the pitiable Kyle but it also fascinates as you begin to question your own capacity for compassion.
At its heart, this film is the story about imperfection. Imperfect relationships (be it platonic or romantic), imperfect actions and the grace to forgive and live despite those imperfections.
Or else it’s just about a guy, with a softer backbone than most who possesses an incredible amount of patience when it comes to putting up with his repugnant best friend because he knows no better and is taught no better.