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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Free Solorecords the extraordinary exploits of mountaineer Alex Honnold and his attempt to scale the 914 meter almost sheer face of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park without using any ropes or safety precautions.
Showcasing a dedication and prowess that seems superhuman, this invigorating portrait of Alex is an easy sell to extreme sports enthusiasts. More sedentary viewers, though — perhaps less focused on the technical niceties of defying gravity — might discover something arguably even more fascinating in this layered documentary: a cautionary study of what can happen when you don’t hug your children.
Alex has always seemed to know how to embrace a rock face, to jam fingers and toes into the tiniest of cracks and scamper upward with near-mystical ease. Rejecting company, ropes or pitons, he has completed more than 1,000 solitary ascents and is reputed to be the greatest surviving free-soloist. In a sport where a rogue wind or a single, startled bird can send you hurtling to your death, not too many practitioners live long enough to earn a tribute like this one.
His calm acceptance of death is one that thrives on having no attachment to the ground and meticulous preparations that take on a ritualistic cast. So when he acquires a serious girlfriend, the sunny Sanni McCandless, his newly tethered emotions are as much of a challenge as the granite monolithic El Capitan.
His feat is captured by an almost equally courageous camera team; they're right up alongside him, though unlike him they are taking safety precautions. This is most definitely a film to see on the big screen — unless of course, you suffer from vertigo.