Free Solo

Rated 4.0

The husband-and-wife directing duo of Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi deliver the white-knuckle documentary of the year, a nail-biting and surprisingly penetrating look at Mira Loma High School graduate and elite mountain climber Alex Honnold as he prepares for the most dangerous climb of his life. Last June, Honnold became the first person to ever “free solo” (i.e., scale without any ropes or other equipment) the 3,000-foot high El Capitan wall in Yosemite National Park, and Free Solo follows his year-long journey of preparation and introspection leading up to the climb. Chin and Vasarhelyi previously made the 2015 documentary Meru, which covered similar subject matter and captured similarly astonishing images, but their storytelling craft has considerably evolved since then. More than other recent documentaries about daredevils, Free Solo succeeds in penetrating Honnold’s shell, showing us why he would risk his life rather than simply celebrating his thirst for danger.