Recommendation: 5/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Plot: “Alex Honnold attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb El Capitan.” -IMDB
Review: There has never been a film like “Free Solo.” Sure, there have been documentaries encapsulating human achievement for future generations to watch and understand, but few films have impressed upon their audience the sheer volume of risk and consequence like this one. To truly understand what this film means for filmmaking and the power of human will, you must stand back and dissect it in pieces.
The scale of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is one of those things that is hard to capture on film. Nothing will ever match standing on the valley floor and taking it all in with your own eyes. Therefore, the only way to truly understand the impossibility and consequences of Alex Honnold’s attempt to free solo the rockface is by making the act of filmmaking a part of the story. By inviting us to stand in the shoes of cameramen, producers, and a director, as they plan how best to capture the moment while giving Alex the space he needs to focus, the filmmakers give us a true sense of what is being attempted here. This point is driven home further as those behind the cameras wrestle with the morality of what they are filming and the very real possibility that they might be filming their friend’s death.
Beyond the act of capturing this moment in time, this documentary also serves as a character study of Alex. There have been very few climbers like him. Free soloing around the world, we quickly begin to understand that he is built differently. His mental space, physical strength, and focus exist on a different plain. To make him relatable to those of us who don’t attempt fate for fun, we are introduced to his girlfriend. A climber in her own right, she fully understands the desire but is fearful of the consequences. It is these moments that make this film approachable and gives it some life. As they discuss mundane relationships goals like moving in together or buying a house, Alex is made real. This reality becomes even more apparent when his nerves are exposed, and he abandons an attempt to free solo El Capitan.
Yet, domestic splendor isn’t meant to last. Alex has a dance with destiny. As one of the greatest human endeavors ever undertaken by an athlete anywhere unfolds, you will watch with bated breath. Every move, every calculation, every reach for the chalk bag, we leave you praying. In the end, Alex reaches his goal, but the journey from point A to B is what makes this movie truly special and worth your time.
Be good to each other,
Last month, 524 people read an article on Natetheworld.com. If you were one of them, please consider supporting this website with a monthly gift. Your support means everything and proves to the world that original content still matters.