Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Free Solo (2018)

Directed by Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Starring Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold, Sanni McCandless


This guy is absolutely nuts, and the decision to film it, putting their own lives at risk and potentially throwing off his focus as he climbed, was also absolutely nuts. If you keep reminding yourself that there are no ropes and no special effects here, it really makes the whole thing incredible.

Some really amazing camerawork, with amazing shots over the cliffs by cameramen hanging on for dear life and well-positioned drones mixed with close-ups of precarious grips and toe-holds.

In parallel with the climbing, I like how they told the story of the making of the film and also went into his complicated relationship with his girlfriend. The two side stories gave the film nice depth.

Honnold is a genuine guy with long arms, toes like fingers, great physical strength, a perfect body for climbing. Combine that with a sterile, hyperfocused obsession with climbing, and great things will happen.

The lack of emotional affect in his voice, a disinterest in relationships, hugging, and emotional connections (much to his girlfriend’s chagrin). Definitely a touch of Asberger’s, like his father. This also explains how amazingly unaffected he is by cameras in his face, something that gives the film a certain objective authenticity that it wouldn’t have if the film’s main character was hamming it up for the camera.

To say he is “delighted” with a hint of a smile after completing one of the most incredible physical feats ever is unnerving, but I guess that’s just him. I think the most poignant comment he made was about how his life is all about performance and accomplishment, and not about being happy and cozy like everyone else. Interesting perspective.

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