‘THE CLIMB’ filmmakers craft a visual wonder with a surprising dose of frenzy, emotional authenticity


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Cast: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin, Gayle Rankin, Judith Godrèche, Talia Balsam, Daniella Covino, Eden Malyn, Meredith Holzman and George Wendt

When filmmakers Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin showcased their 2017 short film, “The Climb,” at the Sundance Film Festival, the two friends received laughs aplenty with their clever premise.

Their seven-minute short put Covino and Marvin in the lead roles and had just enough space for the comedy wheels to turn down a memorable route. It centers on two buds, enjoying a bike ride that slowly pedals toward being a dumping of long-kept secrets. These are the kinds of secrets that could challenge your friendships. “The Climb” was a breath of fresh air that had the promise of becoming a feature-length film.

A couple of years later, Covino and Marvin expanded upon their story, which rolls into more unexpected territory and captures the truth of toxic friendships. You know those friends — the ones who are the Yoko to The Beatles and aren’t afraid to drop their self-sabotaging ways on your doorstep. However, you can’t help yourself because you’ve shared some of life’s most significant milestones with them. So, why stop now? Who knows? Their mysterious and diabolical process of doing things may cause you to look inward and discover details about yourself that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

What’s fascinating about the feature-film version of The Climb is no matter how chaotic things get, and they do get mad-crazy, these two friends need each other. They will hurt each other, one more than the other, but ultimately will align to find better ground. How Covino and Marvin portray their characters and go about presenting their journey is nothing shy of an ode to the art of filmmaking. It’s exceptionally well-told and acted, and it includes an onslaught of technical achievements that belong in college film discussions.

Grade: A

A Filmmakers’ Q&A

Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to speak with Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin earlier this year to delve into the film’s technical magic and how they managed to balance it all with great drama and comedy.

Watch the video interview below, which includes some language. Viewer discretion is advised.

THE CLIMB is now playing in select theaters. In Dallas: At the Angelika Film Center in Dallas and Plano, various AMC theaters in DFW, and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Official Trailer

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.