The Mountain (2018)
★ / ★★★★
The defiantly obtuse “The Mountain” could have been a humanistic story centering a young man (Tye Sheridan) who is recently hired by a doctor (Jeff Goldblum) to take pictures of lobotomy procedures and patients as they travel across the country. Instead, this simple plot is shoved into an experimental route: a minefield of characters staring into space as the irksome score wriggles like a worm in the eardrums; clichéd illusions, daydreams, fantasies; and blinding chalk-white interiors that look and feel like a movie set. Not one element is convincing—the acting, how people actually spoke in the 1950s, the clinically sanitized atmosphere—and especially the ill-paced and ill-placed histrionics of a French-speaking drunkard (Denis Lavant) who wishes for his daughter to be lobotomized. When he is front and center, one could feel the remaining curiosity of the picture shriveling into itself. Who is the movie for? Just as it is reluctant to look deeply into what makes its characters interesting and thus worth following, it, too, is afraid to stare at lobotomy in the face, particularly the long-term side effects that patients experience: incontinence, seizures, apathy. The work fails to take on a specific perspective and so a potentially worthy subject is reduced to an opaque exercise designed to test the patience. Directed by Rick Alverson—giving the impression he was half-asleep while helming the film.