- 1h 32min
After sequestering herself to a small mountain town, an aging actress calls her estranged daughter and granddaughter home for reconciliation and one final celebration.After sequestering herself to a small mountain town, an aging actress calls her estranged daughter and granddaughter home for reconciliation and one final celebration.After sequestering herself to a small mountain town, an aging actress calls her estranged daughter and granddaughter home for reconciliation and one final celebration.
With these three actresses taking top billing in 'Mountain rest,' my curiosity was piqued. So how is it?
Lush greenery, soft forest air, and ambient sounds of the wilderness are complemented with sparing, unobtrusive music that fills the most quiet moments. The movie takes place almost entirely in or around Ethel's (Conroy) mountain home, and the sound, photography, and set decoration evokes warmth and comfort that seems so broadly unfamiliar in contemporary times. The movie is greatly understated, otherwise focused squarely on the characters and their interactions. Low-key as it all is, those interactions are rife with tension that is the heart of the film.
First-time writer-director Alex O. Eaton's camerawork feels a bit uneven, but I do find their penchant for close-ups fitting, filling the frame with actors' countenances or fidgeting so as to catch every nuance of a performance. That's the key here, after all, as the narrative is minimal, advancing and relying generally only on the strength of the small chief cast. Sheil's largely stoic portrayal of Frankie belies deep bitterness, resentment, and emotional baggage. Conroy above all is most prominent, giving ailing Ethel a roiling mixture of sadness, exhaustion, and waning pep. Yet Dyer also once again demonstrates her skill and versatility, vividly embodying young Clara's confusion, stewing anger, and otherwise turmoil in the face of what is kept from her.
That last bit is essential in 'Mountain rest': just as secrets are withheld from Clara, what's not spoken in the movie is at least as if not more important than what is. There are long stretches without audible dialogue, and the empty beats contain multitudes. Eaton pointedly wants the audience to focus on the actors, and the contemplative weight they carry between them.
If the words I'm writing feel unhelpfully vague, consider that I'm restricted by the loose, austere terms of the film. Just as much to the point, this is a feature that will float right past anyone that's not receptive to spartan narrative content, to a picture built on muted subtleties of character and scattered dialogue.
I don't think it's perfect, and that's likely owing to Eaton's lack of experience. While I have difficulty placing my finger on specific faults, I basically just think this is a bit rough around the edges, and the refinement that comes with more time and work will smooth out the wrinkles in future endeavors.
How is 'Mountain rest?' I quite like it. But it's absolutely an acquired taste, a subdued exploration of character and emotion that's reserved for the most patient of viewers. If that sounds like you, then this is pretty well worth checking out.
- Jul 4, 2021