Thanks to continuous voice-over narration by an older and noticeably melancholic Pietro, a pang of melancholy runs through the opening parts of the Italian-language drama, even as the first 30 minutes of the nearly 150-minute epic depict typical, light-hearted moments. of childish innocence. Aided by a constantly moving camera, as if even the lens itself were struggling to capture the transience of summer, the tone in these first moments is steeped in memory and regret. It’s true that the deliberate pacing and daunting running time may have some running for the hills, but those who find themselves on the same wavelength as this quiet, confident, and consistently riveting piece of humor will be rewarded with a deeply moving experience, one that will draw comparisons. to Terrence Malick’s filmography and even “Call Me By Your Name” or “Brokeback Mountain” (although, fair warning, romance-seeking viewers will only have subtext to go on), but a lot stands on its own.
As much as Pietro and Bruno’s friendship takes center stage during this segment, however, it is the dynamic interplay between the boys, their rugged surroundings, and Pietro’s father Giovanni (Filippo Timi) that serves as the lynchpin of the larger story. unfolding drama. After the father and son successfully climb to the top of a particular mountain (which will take on more meaning later), the determined couple recruit Bruno for a challenging hike to a nearby glacier. Here, Giovanni’s astonished statement that “glaciers hold the memories of winters past” hits young Pietro in a way he’s not yet old enough to process. It’s only when he later realizes that this is the last time the three of them were together that he begins to unravel the complicated and swirling emotions that continue to haunt him as an adult.
After all, it’s only when we look back through the fog of memory that we can finally come to terms with the choices we made and the paths we didn’t take.