New Stuff
Main | Juliet, Naked (2018) »

Free Solo (2018)

Free Solo (Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)- Alex HonnoldThe Height of Reality

Overall Grade: A+
Story: A
Acting: A
Direction: A+
Visuals: A+

Summary: A dizzying documentary with an actual cliff hanger.

"Free Solo" is the documentary film made of one of the most unbelievable feats of mental and physical skill to ever be attempted by a human being. Alex Honnold takes on the monstrous 3,000 ft face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

I'm not a rock climber. I didn't have a lot of interest in seeing a movie about it. But I have a few friends who do rock climb and I've heard about the meticulous care, the hours and hours of preparation, the teamwork, and the years it takes to build the skills to do the most challenging climbs. But my friends climb with ropes, gear and safety equipment. Alex Honnold, and a few people like him around the world, climb without ropes, without the aid of equipment, and without the aid of other climbers. This kind of climbing is called "free solo" climbing.

This film is a documentary. And while it's clear goal is to document the iconic free solo climb up the sheer face of El Capitan, what it does in preamble is no less than perfect. Filmmaker Jimmy Chin unfolds the story of Alex Honnold in a way that allows you to see his life, his mind, his relationships and his unceasing obsession with perfection. An obsession that leads him to challenge himself to free solo the most difficult climbs in the world. But he does not take these challenges with passionate, or reckless abandon. He is an intensely detailed, meticulous athlete. And his accomplishments are brought to dizzying climax with this movie.

As I sat watching this movie, my stomach knotted up and the amazing cinematography left my heart pounding. Seeing this film on the silver screen allows you to be over-awed by the breath-taking photography and scenery only possible from the literal mountain top experiences  that our cast is challenged with. But beyond just the natural beauty of the film, the director carefully exposes the reality of what it is to be a free soloist, to be Alex Honnold, and ultimately to be human. In this context, failure, even momentary or miniscule, means certain death. The essence of this story is about what it means to literally tackle "the mountain"- to face your very real fears. And in facing those fears to let your only response be a complete surrender to accomplishing your goal.

See this film before it leaves the big screen. you won't regret it. The best movie I've seen in 2018.


Review by Kim Gentes 


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>