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Free Solo

Live Beyond Fear

Free solo climber Alex HonnoldFree Solo opens with climber Alex Honnold’s heavy breathing loudly keeping time as he winds his way up a long, narrow crack in California’s Yosemite National Park, the centre of the rock-climbing universe. The camera pans out, and we realize, stomachs churning, that our hero is more than 1,000 feet off the ground, free-soloing with no ropes, hard at work on the wall that has taunted and beckoned him for years: El Capitan, 3,000 feet of sheer granite. It’s an unthinkable dream.

Free Solo, a documentary directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and pro climber Jimmy Chin, the married duo behind 2015’s Meru, is a masterful and intimate character portrait of a climber most of the world doesn’t quite know what to do with. Despite scads of media coverage over the past decade threatening to make Honnold too familiar a subject, this is a deeper look into one man’s pursuit of perfection.

Poster for the vertiginous doc Free SoloWhether you care about climbing or not, you’ll appreciate this tale of passion, discipline and, ultimately, transcendence. One incredible climb for one athlete, one quantum leap for mankind.

– Katherine Laidlaw, Globe and Mail

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