Everest, the true story of a group of climbers in the 1990s befallen by a rough storm, surpassed my expectations, which is something I rarely say. Perhaps that is because of the mis-representative trailers, which portray the film as an action-packed adventure rather than an emotional character piece that happens to be set against the backdrop of a great adventure. Regardless, I enjoyed the film a great deal, being genuine and refreshingly paced.
The visuals are, of course, stunning. Without the need for especially imaginative cinematography, the filmmakers allowed the beautiful landscapes to speak for themselves. More importantly, however, check out this cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Jake Gyllenhaal, and more. This impressive group of actors is convincing and moving, with especially strong performances from Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal, despite their relatively small roles. Some of the most effective moments in the film were of various characters conversing via radio and satellite phone, which speaks to their strong commitment to their characters.
I’m not sure how accurate a representation the film is of real life, but I have the sense it pays homage to the climbers and their struggles with respect and dignity. From a storytelling perspective, I appreciated that the narrative remains self-contained, without trying to over-reach – it never preaches, and it remains devoid of artificially inserted thematic thrusts. Everest plainly and simply presents its narrative, without judgment, forcing the viewer to come to their own conclusions about the characters’ actions and fates. A scene at about the film’s halfway point is especially poignant, where the climbers discuss why they are making the ascent. This conversation foregrounds their motivations, which effectively thematically frames the entire of the film and viscerally puts their subsequent sacrifices in perspective.
Finally, while I felt the first act was slow and slightly draggy, I eventually appreciated this slow-paced introduction to the characters and mood of the film. The film as a whole fell into a nice pace, with both the tension and the rapidity of events increasing to a frenzied storm. Especially in the final act, I was persistently on the edge of my seat, from both the dizzying visuals and intense pressure of the narrative. All things considered, I think you will be surprised how much you enjoy this film, and I definitely recommend a viewing, in theatres if possible. Just make sure you’re not scared of heights!