After loving both Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Three Identical Strangers, I’ve decided to give documentaries a chance. I’m determined to see all of this year’s Oscar nominees in the category. Since January is slow and I’m caught up on new releases, I had to branch out a bit to find something to see. That’s when I noticed Free Solo was still playing. I’d heard some buzz for it, including some imploring to see this on a big screen. This little indie theater wasn’t that big of a screen, but it was still an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Oh man, am I glad I went for it.
So you know that opening sequence from Mission Impossible 2? Free Solo is about Alex Honnold, a professional climber who does that kinda thing for real: climbing without help or safety ropes. Despite all the climbs he’s done around the world, one has always eluded him: El Capitan at Yosemite. No matter how many times he’s climbed it with ropes, he’s never felt ready to free solo it, possibly because no one ever has before. We follow all his training and prep and get inside a head his bit examining his motivations and the way it impacts his relationships with family and friends.
Now I absolutely love that M:i-2 sequence, but it is nothing compared to the intensity of this film. Whodda thunk a doc coulda provided thrills on par with one of the greatest action franchises to date, but it absolutely did. Heart in throat, entire time. I really wish I coulda seen it in IMAX (and apparently if I waited a couple days, I woulda had a chance to), but that might’ve caused an actual heart attack.
Getting to know Alex was as interesting as the climbing. He’s a bit of an enigma. The way he processes fear and this challenge is very different from how most people would (hence why he’s one of the few who attempts these feats).
Anyways my point ultimately is that I’m glad that documentary isn’t such a dirty word to me anymore. There are some great ones out there, and now that I’ve opened up to ’em, I’m psyched to see what else they got
Free Solo – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/