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My husband and I found a cute French comedy on Netflix the other night, called L’Ascension. It tells the story of a man who will do anything for love.
L’Ascension (The Climb) tells the story of Samy (played by the comedian Ahmed Sylla), a young man who lives in La Courneuve, a banlieue of Paris. He is hopelessly in love with Nadia (Alice Belaïdi), who he has been friends with for many years. When he declares his love for his friend, she tells him that he has never finished anything that he has started, and that he has never been motivated to take a risk in his life. Somehow, Samy decides that to prove his love for her, he will climb Mount Everest. Soon, his love for Nadia takes him to the Himalayas, where he begins a journey that he never dreamed of.
When it was first released in January 2017, critic Alain Spira gave L’Ascension four out of five stars. He wrote, “A la fois comédie sentimentale, film d’aventure, chronique sociale et voyage initiatique, cette «ascension» qui part du camp de base en béton pour s’achever à la cime enneigée de l’Everest, fait gravir au spectateur une montagne de sensations. Des rires aux larmes, selon la formule consacrée.” (“At the same time a sentimental comedy, an adventure film, a social commentary, and an initiation, this “climb” that starts from a cardboard base camp to reach the snow-capped top of Everest engraves in the audience’s mind a montage of feelings: from laughs to cries, according to the formula used.”
Although the filmmakers did use some creative flourishes with the film, it was based on the real-life story of journalist Nadir Dendoune, who reached the top of Everest in 2008. Dendoune had no previous mountaineering experience and yet became the first French-Algerian to reach the summit of Everest. A famous picture shows him posing there holding a cardboard heart with the number 93 written on it—the number of the department where he was born.
Dendoune also wrote a book about the experience, on which the film is partially based, titled Un tocard sur le toit du monde (“A Loser on Top of the World”).
You can hear Dendoune speak about his experience climbing Everest (in French, of course!) here. L’Ascension is available for streaming on Netflix—so give it a try!