TIFF 2020: “Magic Mountains”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Breakup or separation is not easy to handle for some. While one may do something insane, say, commit suicide, another one can the take the life of their better half. It is rare when the two remain friends. This is why watching films like these is always difficult. Because for these they do not need to be called a fictional story.

Lex (Thomas Ryckewaert) is a celebrated Dutch writer of popular novels. His last book, “Silent Sorrow”, is a big success. The character he has written, Emily, has a rich personality. All these seemingly should bring him happiness, but instead he cannot bare the fact that he is no longer with Hannah (Hannah Hoekstra). Despite years passing by, he invites her to join for a mountain trip for the very last time. He promises that he won’t bug her or even remember about her existence. What she does not know though is that he has a different plan on his hands that he is willing to execute if not for the guide, Voytek (Marcin Dorocinski), who does not trust Lex.

“I want to say goodbye to you”, Lex says to Hannah. When she asks why, his response would scare any investigator, “You left me. I have never had a chance to leave you. But after our trip, I promise, I won’t even remember of your existence”, almost like he promises something terrible is about to happen. Hannah is a professional climber. We don’t really worry about her ability to survive in the mountains. However, Lex is a pro himself too. This is why it is going to be an even game of survival which Hannah does not know yet she has gotten herself into.

When Lex hires Voytek as his guide, the man does not like Lex and realizes that he may be hiding something. He tells Hannah to let him know if she needs him and that he will be around. Sadly, he will be nowhere to be found when Hannah is all alone in the mountain facing the terrifying beauty of the landscape and a man who knows how to play with it.

From director Urszula Antoniak, “Magic Mountains” indeed delivers its intended suspense. It’s a slow burning drama where the main lead is the Mountains that knows perfectly well how to handle any situation. Even though that can be potentially hazardous.

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