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Cannes 2024 – Simon Of The Mountain ★★★



Released: 2024 (Cannes)

Director: Federico Luis

Cast: Lorenzo Ferro, Pehuen Pedre, Kiara Supini, Laura Nevole

A group of teenagers forming fast friendships, taking foolish physical risks, falling in love, fumbling sexual encounters, finding themselves, disappointing parents, Simon of the Mountain is a coming of age movie. Except that the teenagers here have varying degrees of disability and attend a special school. Save for one.

Twenty one year old Simon (Lorenzo Ferro) does not have a disability but is drawn to the school and its students. He lives adrift from the city with his mother and her builder boyfriend who has taken Simon on as an assistant but comes down to the school after meeting the students on a pilgrimage on the mountain. He starts to wear a hearing aid he doesn’t need and move his head in the way some disabled people do. The film begins and ends with Simon being asked a series of questions asked a series of questions designed to discover who he is and what everyday tasks he is able to complete. He can’t clean a room, he answers but can make his bed.

Simon befriends one young man, Pehuen (Pehuen Pedre) and helps him and his fellow students rehearse for a production of Romeo and Juliet. Before long he is drawn into the students stories and lives. Or perhaps he deliberately infiltrates their lives.

Why is the question. Is he emotionally and psychologically predatory? Is he just lonely and needy? Does he want to be or be seen to be disabled? And if so, why?

Federico Luis’ debut feature doesn’t elucidate. We never fully learn Simon’s intentions. Hanging out with the teens is what Simon chooses to do and it’s their escapades together that the film dwells on. So we have Simon helping his new friend start a romance. Simon and his friend play acting to get Simon a disability certificate which will allow him to officially remain with the students and receive a state allowance.

Simon taking the teens for a drive in his stepfather’s van, a trip that turns dangerous. Simon exploring a possible liaison with the feisty Coco (Kiara Supin) who tells him it’s important that he is ‘her first’ and who then challenges him as to why he’s pretending to be one of the group when he’s not. Simon coming to blows with his perplexed mother (Laura Nevole) and her boyfriend ( Agustin Toscano who also co-wrote the screenplay) neither of whom understand what he’s doing or why.

By the end of the film, they’re not the only ones. Whilst Simon of the Mountain is an interesting and unusual tale of the trials and tribulations of adolescence. It is somewhat reminiscent of Timothee Chalamet’s cannibal effort, Bones And All; worth a look but a film that leaves you wondering what the point of it was. If the point is that it asks the provocative question ‘who is really strange’ – then it leaves any answer hanging, lightly swaying aimlessly in the wind.

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