THREE PEAKS – movie review

THREE PEAKS (Drei Zinnen)
Greenwich Entertainment Release
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Jan Zabeil
Screenwriter: Jan Zabeil
Cast: Alexander Fehling, Arian Montgomery, Bérénice Bejo
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 6/12/19
Opens: June 28, 2019

Three Peaks Movie Poster Movie Art Film Print 16x24" 24x36"

Though the languages spoken are German and French with just a small amount of English, and though the action takes place in the a remote area of the Italian Alps, many Americans as well as people around the world should identify with the power struggle that underscores the entire production. This is a glacier-paced movie, fitting enough since the final thirty minutes takes place where ice is giving way to water, and offers rewards to those in the audience who are not frantic channel-switchers or who cannot live comfortably without multi-tasking with a Starbucks coffee in one hand, a smart phone in the other and a backpack in which to funnel around. Alex Schneppat’s lensing during the seven weeks of filming evokes the majesty of the chilly mountain slopes with particularly fine capturing of the rising sun and the white mist that makes vision close to zero.

Now about those power struggles to which many of us might relate. Three characters dominate the scene given the near absence of humanity enjoyed by the mountaineers, understandably enough given the trio of hills that surround the family’s vacation cabin and serving as metaphor for mother, father, and son. Aaron (Alexander Fehling) and his s.o. Léa (Bérénice Bejo) have moved from a lakeside resort in Italy (which they never should have left) to their Alpine retreat in the Dolomites with seven-year-old Tristan (Arian Montgomery) whose American father has been left behind by Léa. The youngster misses his dad, wonders why his parents’ relationship fell apart, but is being cared for and even loved by Léa’s boyfriend—no slouch, but rather a fellow who crosses easily from German to French to English, is an outdoorsman, even a musician. But you cannot discount biology. Tristan and Aaron have bonded, they share quite a lot including fun in the water where the boy learns to swim, and they get along famously on the surface. Bubbling below, though, tension is created by the Tristan’s conflicted feelings. He is fond of Aaron, particularly given the attention he receives, but ingrained in his DNA is his attachment to George, the dad with whom he spent his formative years and now misses. A crisis occurs when the two take a hike into the vast, uninhabited terrain, and as the film picks up its pace, a catastrophic situation arises not too unlike that faced by a vacationing man and his wife in Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film “Force Majeure.”

Cinephiles will recognize Alexander Fehling as Master Sergeant Wilhelm in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (my favorite movie of 2009) and Argentine-French actress Bérénice Bejo as Pepe Miller in Michel Hazanavius’s “The Artist,” which celebrates Hollywood’s silent era. The most stunning performance is that of seven-year-old Arian Montgomery in his debut feature, though he had been seen in a TV movie “Beste Bescherung” and in its sequel. He is a blond whose hair was dyed to match that of his film mother. Jan Zabeil, whose who directing résumé includes “Der Fluss war einst ein Mensch” about a man lost in the marshlands of Botswana, is obviously in his métier given the melodramatic final third of “Three Peaks.”

90 minutes. © 2019 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – A-
Overall – B+