Bérénice Bejo (The Artist, The Search) stars in this slow-burning study of a couple whose log-cabin vacation with their young son takes on ominous tones as the boy’s subtle acts of rebellion gradually escalate toward a chilling climax.
A cozy log cabin, surrounded by shimmering lakes, green meadows, and snow-capped summits, the setting of Three Peaks has the makings of a tranquil family vacation. Aaron (Alexander Fehling) and Lea (Bérénice Bejo) are looking forward to spending time with Lea's young son, Tristan (Arian Montgomery). But their environment can only distract them from their inner doubts for so long. Are they really a family?
Whether it's his determination not to speak to his mother in her native French, his insistence on talking to his father on his cellphone multiple times a day, or his sneaking into bed with Aaron and his mother every night, Tristan finds ways to rebel that, although seemingly small in action, are huge in their cumulative impact. Is the child aware of his actions or is he just a confused eight-year-old boy? His expressions of affection, after all, are as prevalent as his moments of suspected rebellion.
With his sophomore feature, Jan Zabeil shows himself to be in total control over the vast physical and psychological landscapes that lie at the centre of Three Peaks. Subtly oscillating between moments of playful affection and bone-chilling glances, he constructs an atmosphere that is as emotionally complex as it is palpably unsettling. Matched by the delicate yet powerful performances of his actors, Zabeil's script gently crescendos — each scene lending more weight to the next — until the film reaches its formidable conclusion, and the notion of unconditional love is put to the ultimate test.