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Gabriel and the Mountain.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Gabriel and the Mountain
Written by
Fellipe Barbosa, Lucas Paraizo, Kirill Mikhanovsky
Directed by
Fellipe Barbosa
Starring
João Pedro Zappa, Caroline Abras
Genre
Biopic
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2017

The real-life story Gabriel and the Mountain is about the former and not the latter, and it begins with Gabriel already dead. His last 70 days, spent in Africa in 2009, are recreated in a faux-documentary style using actor Joao Pedro Zappa in the title role.

He's a young Brazilian in a hurry to see the world before he heads to UCLA. The non-actor Africans he met in-country play themselves. A young man with insatiable appetites of various kinds, Gabriel Buchmann was a friend of director Fellipe Barbosa, whose debut film Casa Grande was well-received.

Though Gabriel carries a travel guide, he aggressively resists any notion that he's a tourist. And for a man so young, there's an ornery bucket-list urgency to his journey.

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Director Barbosa's love letter to his late friend is emotionally satisfying and cinematically splendid, with social commentary shoe-horned in for better or worse. The film is alive to the paradox of wanderlust: Gabriel reaches the peak of Kilimanjaro, but his joy is solitary and short-lived – ain't no mountains high enough for some.

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