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‘Three Peaks’: Slow but Engaging

Family Semi-Bliss and Brewing Tensions in the Alps

'Three Peaks' | Credit: Echo Film

As the title suggests, mountainous peaks are looming motifs in German director Jan Zabiel’s stealthily slow but engaging tale of family semi-bliss and brewing tensions in the Italian Alps. Joining his mother (Bérénice Bejo) and stepfather (Alexander Fehling) in a vacation cabin, young Tristan (Arian Montgomery, in a surprisingly strong, nuanced performance) points out the peaks’ triangular similarity to the mother-father-child unit — sturdy yet jagged, and fraught with danger. Fittingly, the film unfolds with a peaceful unhurried quality, with subtle familial dynamics buzzing beneath the vacation-paced cadences and scenic surfaces. Zabiel keeps his cinematic wits coolly in check, avoiding any musical scoring except for the occasional wisps of rustic harmonium played in the cabin. His visual strategy is deceptively casual-seeming, but often metaphorically encoded — as with an opening underwater scene mirrored in a much more dramatic watery encounter late in the film.

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