The first feature-length work from experimental filmmaker Jacqueline Goss, this mesmerizingly minimalist landscape movie details a year atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, where two climatologists practice their solitary calling in separate seasonal shifts. It’s based on real work done at the summit’s observatory and shaped around a barely perceptible structure of fiction—the pair is played by Dani Leventhal and Katya Gorker, both filmmakers themselves—that supports this astonishingly shot portrait of life as a weather chronicler 6,288 feet above sea level. Working with cinematographer Jesse Cain, Goss shows an eye for the beauty of the stark location, but also a sense of humor: For every marvelously slow pan along snow-clotted windows, there’s one of a bundled-up researcher staggering to stay upright in one of the windiest places on earth.
In the winter, Leventhal navigates white-on-white tundra, while in the misty summer, Gorker prepares the place for day-trippers she never meets; 25 minutes pass before we hear someone speak, regarding a weather report. What story there is surrounds the unexplained object one finds and the other deals with, creating a closed loop that could continue forever. By paring down to the bare processes of the pair’s work, The Observers creates a haunting sense of people engaged in an otherworldly duty—huddled over incomprehensible charts and dials, they seem like they’re busy maintaining the clockwork mechanism of the world itself.
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