South Mountain Image

Brougher fills her film with delicate moments. A heartbreaking conversation between Lila and Gigi ends with them in a sauna, sweating out their anxiety. A vivid birth is witnessed over the phone. I have no idea how the filmmaker pulled off making a “removal of a tick from a neck” scene palpably erotic; I was equally impressed with seemingly inconsequential moments, like Jonah and Edgar nudging each other out of Lila’s driveway in their trucks. The shifting of tones is subliminal and handled with aplomb, Brougher equally adept at portraying pathos and passion, despondency and salvation.

“A keen examination of a woman’s grief and self-discovery…subtly tug at heartstrings.”

“Poison is for liars,” Talia says. “You haven’t lied to me, have you?” Brougher’s dialogue is highly literary but never intrusive. Like the best-written films, she demonstrates how people should talk ideally. Perhaps in less capable hands, the words wouldn’t have resonated as much. The actors, particularly the magnificent Talia Balsam (her performance evoking Mary Kay Place’s in Kent Jones’ Diane), all shine, imbuing their characters with gravitas and relatability.

Akin to the wind, Brougher sweeps into Lila’s life, and then inevitably leaves her, to become one with nature. We all hit highs, then lows. We ride up in exhilaration, and then we plummet in terror. We experience love and warmth, followed by separation and despair. The female-centric, lo-fi South Mountain is an excellent example of how little a budget matters when all the other puzzle pieces are in place. We need more cinema like this.

South Mountain (2020)

Directed and Written: Hilary Brougher

Starring: Talia Balsam, Scott Cohen, Michael Oberholtzer, Andrus Nichols, Macaulee Cassaday, Midori Francis, Naian González Norvind, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

South Mountain Image

"…Akin to the wind, Brougher sweeps into Lila’s life, and then inevitably leaves her, to become one with nature."

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