The Mountain (Rick Alverson, 2018)
What’s This All About
After losing his father, incel Andy (Tye Sheridan) embarks on a road trip with a lobotomist (Jeff Goldblum) in hopes of finding his mother in a mental hospital—or a girl who looks like her
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
I once met a work colleague who suffered from schizophrenia and said he decided to stop taking his tablets as he didn’t trust doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. He said they used to give cocaine to patients back in the old days, and he was unsure what type of drugs they were giving him now. I told him he shouldn’t make a decision based on a mistake that happened in a time where there was not enough research, but I understood what he meant. Doctors are still prescribing oxycontin, a highly questioned pain killer, and they had been performing lobotomies not so long ago.
The Mountain takes us to a sombre journey through the mental asylums in the America of the 50s where lobotomies were still in use. Rick Alverson uses this setting to show us a bleak, almost nightmarish world where the only clear difference between patients and hospital staff is the way they dress. While Tye Sheridan plays Andy as an awkward young man who behaves like he’s already been lobotomised, Jeff Goldblum portrays Dr Fiennes with amusing instability, concluding that sometimes those who decide who’s insane are not right in the head either.
With a jarring, minimalistic soundtrack, stilted performances and an icy cinematography that emulates the pictures Dr Fiennes and Andy take on their journey, The Mountain is never macabre and doesn’t romanticise mentally ill patients, but it still is a pessimistic account on the way society treats them.
Andy has such a deep-rooted Oedipus complex that not only he looks for young women who resemble his mother’s condition, but he also seems to adopt a self-destructive behaviour with the intention of being lobotomised and becoming just like her. Even though The Mountain fizzles out towards the end when Jeff Goldblum is replaced by an over-the-top Denis Lavant, the resolution is nevertheless devastating.
After committing malpractice, an unaffected Dr Fiennes immediately ask for the next patient to come in, which sums up the attitude of some surgeons and their God complex.
Viewers that are still convinced that this detached, devious world is what’s driving them crazy.
Good companion pieces
Not only The Mountain shares the same aesthetics as Roy Andersson’s World of Glory (1991), but they both also deal with a “lobotomised” society.
Jeff Goldblum creates an out-of-this-world character, but he’s never excessive. The American actor gives, after The Fly, one of the best performances of his career. Nice comeback.
Lorenzo Hagerman’s cinematography persuaded me with its almost 1:1 aspect ratio, but it truly won me over with its style that resembles the works of Erwin Olaf or Gregory Crewdson.
For Your Consideration
Best Movie - Best Director: Rick Alverson - Best Actor: Tye Sheridan - Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Goldblum - Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Role: Hannah Gross, Annemarie Lawless - Best Original Screenplay: Rick Alverson, Dustin Guy Defa, Colm O'Leary - Best Cinematography: Lorenzo Hagerman - Best Editing: Rick Alverson, Michael Taylor - Best Costume Design: Elizabeth Warn - Best Music: Robert Donne - Best Production Design - Best Ensemble Cast