Free Solo is a fantastic documentary, both breathtakingly beautiful and heart-stoppingly harrowing; it’s an absolute sin that “Best Cinematography” can’t be counted among its Oscar nominations. Which isn’t to say that it’s all spectacle and no substance; in fact, the movie delivers an emotionally rich and thematically dense story that elevates (pun intended) its gorgeous visuals.
This is a film about a solo climber single-mindedly devoted to his craft (to call it a "hobby" would be insultingly reductive), often to the detriment of his social life and mental health. It’s a film about the meticulousness of his rehearsal process—how he painstakingly maps and charts every nook, cranny, and potential foothold on the mountain, building both confidence and muscle memory before attempting the route without a rope. To a certain extent, it’s also a film about its own making—any project this ambitious could hardly avoid acknowledging the effort that went into the production behind the scenes.
I have no other words to describe Free Solo; it demands to be experienced firsthand (preferably in IMAX).