Two best friends are cycling up a hill. One is about to get married. The other has to make a confession: he slept with his fiancé. Not only does the world of the groom dissolve around him, but he is halfway up a hill struggling to reach the top. Life sucks.
It is this revelation that begins The rise, the darkly hilarious new movie to be released digitally this week. The story was written by lead actors Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Martin and inspired by a short film of the same name. She follows the intense friendship of two close friends over many years. While Mike’s ruthlessness and Kyle’s weak attitude make for a stormy combination, these men will put up with anything before they cut each other off. The rise is an ode to male friendship in all its poisonous splendor – a hilariously observed film that finds humor in often desperate situations.
The trajectory of the film was bumpy just like on this bike tour. It started strong: After its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, The rise was hit with a barrage of positive reviews. Then, as the film was preparing for a theatrical release in 2020, the pandemic struck and the brakes hit. “We had a big flashy premiere, a great festival run, and we wanted a great theatrical release …” says Covino. “And then everything just stopped.”
Now is the time for comedy, however. The duo tell me that their film was born out of asking “what would happen if you took this broken friendship to the brink of breaking point and beyond”.
For Marvin, however, the film is “less about toxicity and more about the dynamics between the two characters – the feeling of friendship and camaraderie and the shared pleasure and trauma”.
“I think there is a marked difference between friendships and most other relationships,” he continues. “The closest comparable is the family; They are something you like: “I will always be with you – we.” to have to interact. “While you couldn’t see friends for 15 years and then you say,” Wow, I see the value – I don’t have to have it, but I want it. “Friendships have something special.”
Covino and Marvin are best friends in real life. And they named the characters after themselves. How lifelike is the film? “I think we see each other too much to know if we are that for each other,” says Covino with a laugh. “We drew from a collection of relationships that we have. I don’t know that I can see it as a person in my life. “
The rise has an unusual structure. To convey the passage of time, it is told in seven vignettes, all of which have an unspecified time span from the last one. Every scene – for example a Christmas party hosted by Kyle’s mother (Talia Balsam), or a luscious New Year’s Eve in a ski resort – takes place in real time. They’re also getting more and more ambitious, some with lots of performers and others with choreographed stunts. Since all but one of the scenes have no cuts, the probability that something will go wrong was always high.
“It wasn’t easy,” admits Martin. “There were many problems that could have been potentially devastating.” Covino, who recently starred alongside Tom Hanks on the Netflix Western News from all over the world, agrees. “We were definitely on the verge of blowing up the whole movie at one point.”
However, he believes that this pressure “got the actors and crew on their toes”.
“Everyone came together and stepped forward in ways we’d always hoped. We haven’t given ourselves a lot of leeway. We didn’t do the traditional things we could use to find out in the edit. “
Although the film won’t hit theaters, both Covino and Marvin hope it will develop a cult following if it lands on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. “It seems that the only way our film can go is to find its audience,” says Covino. “The blessing is that a lot of people can discover this movie and have low expectations, which always results in the best experience.” He pauses before giggling. “Maybe you should be kidding us.” Too late.
In the meantime, the two, who have been producing commercials and short films together since 2010, are working intensively on a new project. They have a script and TV show ready to film once the pandemic settles down.
“We didn’t just go there and shoot a film,” says Marvin. “We have been doing this for 10 years so we have a lot of things that we have already worked on. The rise gave us the ability to let go of the world. Hopefully it will happen as soon as we can film again. “
The Climb can be downloaded and stored from March 1st, as well as borrowed digitally