REVIEW: Mountain Men (2014)

mountainmen

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2014, Resonance Film and Video/Telefilm Canada

Director:
Cameron Labine
Producer:
Jason James
Writer:
Cameron Labine
Cinematography:
Catherine Lutes
Editing:
Adam Locke-Norton

Cast:
Chace Crawford (Cooper)
Tyler Labine (Topher)
Britt Irvin (Leah)
Christine Willes (Marian)
Ben Cotton (Herschberger)

Two brothers couldn’t have a worse reunion than a struggle for survival in this Canadian-made comedy-drama.

On the day of their mother’s re-marriage, estranged brothers Cooper and Topher have reunited. Cooper left town three years ago to become a businessman in New York while Topher stayed behind and has become work as both a DJ and pot dealer. However, he has also learned of another change in his life. His girlfriend Leah is pregnant. During the wedding, Topher hears a rumor of a squatter at the old family cabin in the mountains. Cooper reluctantly decides to go with Topher to evict the squatter.

When they get to the cabin, they learn no one is there. When the car stalls in the freezing cold, Cooper comes with the idea to set a fire to thaw out the battery. However, the idea goes awry when the cabin and the car are both set on fire. The brothers no longer have another choice but to walk to find the roads. However, the trip makes the brothers become more estranged with some dark secrets involving the brothers revealed. Will they be able to get over their differences once and for all and make their way for help?

This film from writer-director Cameron Labine is a struggle for survival between two estranged brothers and is a well-made combination of comedy and drama. What helps is the chemistry between lead actors Chace Crawford showing the dramatic half as Cooper, the more serious-minded Cooper while the director’s brother, Tyler Labine, brings the comedic half of the film as the more laid-back Topher.

The first act of the film is the only scene where we see the supporting characters, such as Topher’s girlfriend Leah, who reveals the news she is pregnant; and the brothers’ re-married mother. The rest of the film primarily focuses on just Cooper and Topher as they head towards the mountain cabin in a plan that from there goes awry. This becomes the catalyst for the brothers’ becoming closer, than more apart, closer, than more apart. Yes, it may seem crazy that it constantly switches between comedy and drama, but for some reason, the script makes it smoothly work.

In an interesting switch at times, Labine gets to show a dramatic side of himself and Crawford brings comic relief as well. It is this ability to play off each other quite well is why Crawford and Labine truly drive the film and make it work. The epilogue is somewhat predictable yet reveals a little more about the fate of the brothers when the experience makes them face reality in their struggle in the mountains.

Mountain Men is a surprisingly good film about brothers and how a struggle for survival may seem like a constant venting out between the two cast members, but kudos go out to both Tyler Labine and Chace Crawford for playing each other off so well that it makes the film totally watchable.

WFG RATING: B+

DVD

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