2018 has been an incredible year for documentaries. From the deeply moving and profound reflection on the life and legacy of Fred Rodgers Won’t You Be My Neighbour? to Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, a heart wrenching and depressing exploration of the refugee crisis.
And now you can add Free Solo to that list. Free solo is a jaw-dropping documentary from National Geographic about Alex Honnold and his attempts to summit a 3,000ft-high rock formation in Yosemite Valley, California called El Capitan without any ropes or safety equipment.
The climbing sequences are among some of the most intense and riveting of the year. You feel like Alex could plummet to his death at any second and there were several gasps and shrieks throughout my audience whenever the daredevil would lose his grip on the rock face. Free solo is an acrophobe’s worst nightmare!
Another component that makes Free Solo such an engaging watch is the man Alex Honnold himself. Alex is a fascinating figure even when he isn’t performing seemingly impossible feats. The audience immediately gravitates towards his quirky and bizarre personality and his boundless energy makes you want to be around him and see him achieve his insane goal.
Directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who previously gave us the equally impressive Meru in 2015, give us a beautiful looking film with gorgeous vistas and vertigo-inducing camerawork. Free Solo is a film that deserves to seen on the biggest screen possible.
The music by Marco Beltrami (whose previous credits include Logan and The Hurt locker) is also beautifully composed and utilised.
Free Solo is a powerful story of overcoming seemingly impossible odds with a fascinating figure at its centre that will no doubt inspire and leave you on the edge of your seat.
Reviewed by Jordan Ellis
Free Solo opens on January 24th.
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