The Ascent

The Ascent ★★★★★

The Ascent is a haunting, gut-wrenching experience that might just stick with me forever. This is a film that is so overwhelming that I don't think I'll ever be able to muster the stamina to watch it again in my lifetime, but it's also so incredible that I'm probably going to keep coming back to it. It's a film that makes you want to look away at times but you can't, and it really keeps you in a trance the whole time. The cinematography is so beautiful that it manages to capture the beauty hidden beneath the sorrow, with snowy landscapes and forests that will literally take your breath away. You can almost feel yourself becoming numb from the freezing cold and chilly breaths, and the desolate yet gorgeous scenery and camerawork practically becomes a character in itself, building up a dreary and bleak atmosphere like no other. Shots like the sled or leaning against the frozen tree also come to mind but part of what makes these shots so memorable and unreal are the absolutely fantastic performances.

Boris Plotnikov's icy stare makes his character essentially angelic and despite staying quiet for most of the journey, he conveys so much emotion through his face alone with the perfect amount of poignancy and melancholy. Vladimir Gostyukhin really knocks it out of the park when it comes to some of the more intense and heart-wrenching scenes, especially towards the ending with one particular sequence that I will never forget. Anatoliy Solonitsyn's performance is pretty much as riveting and bitter as it gets and I was left speechless. Not only is the film a wonderfully emotional journey of these two soldiers that are on the very edge of dying for nearly every second, but it's also a psychological film of heroism and patriotism that strips the horrors of war to its barest yet even more so, it's an almost spiritual journey with biblical undertones most present towards the final act. The Ascent is a raw masterpiece of cinema that moved me in a way that words cannot express.

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