There is a scene in Leszek Dawid's Broad Peak where Maciej (Ireneusz Czop) falls down a little after attaching himself to a rope. As soon as I saw this rope, I sensed that Maciej would fall. When he descended to the base from the summit, his teammates' worried expressions told me that something was not right. A thought ran into my mind, "What if Maciej didn't reach the summit? Did he lie about his success?" Soon, we (and Maciej) find out that he didn't really make it to the peak. He was merely 17 meters away from the top of the Broad Peak mountain.
Everyone in his team knew about this, but they refused to share this information with Maciej, as he would have risked his life by forcefully covering those 17 meters. All this means is that I was on the same wavelength as the film. There was an intuitive bond between me and the screen. This understanding between us seemed not so different from the one between Maciej and Ewa (Maja Ostaszewska), his wife. Years later, when Maciej decides to return to Broad Peak, he says to Ewa, "I am going." "I knew you would," she replies as if she had been reading his mind.
Czop and Ostaszewska are in superb form and really connect with each other emotionally. You look at their characters and believe they have been living a life before the beginning of this film. Their lovemaking is passionate and intense, and when she tells him to only go to the summit if he feels all right, you sense how greatly she cares for him. Ostaszewska fills the silence with Maciej's thoughts. When you see him lost and quietly gazing at nothing specific, you grasp he must be reflecting on his failure and the idea of going back to the mountain. If the actors were not skilled, these silences would have disrupted the momentum and made these stretches pretentious or boring. It takes one line from Maciej's kid to make us understand what he must have been going through in his school (other children would have made fun of him given his dad's unsuccess).
Broad Peak is not about the perils of scaling a mountain. It's about regaining respect. When the camera keeps moving away from Maciej, he appears like a tiny dot on a large snowy terrain. What magnifies this "dot" is determination. Maciej might have gained triumph after many years, but he finished what he started. But Broad Peak makes an inexplicable bad decision of putting texts praising the climbers just before Maciej reaches the summit. This takes us out of the film. We are not with Maciej when he smiles while standing on the top of Broad Peak mountain. But the following text, consisting of sad news, affects us a little. The film has more highs than lows, and at 1 hour and 41 minutes, it passes by smoothly without exhausting your patience.
Final Score – [7/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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