Film Review – The Alpinist (2021)

Title – The Alpinist (2020) 

Directors – Peter Mortimer & Nick Rosen (Valley Uprising) 

Cast – Marc-André Leclerc, Brette Harrington, Alex Honnold

Plot – A documentary following the exploits of reclusive daredevil adventurer Marc-André Leclerc whose alpine climbs have pushed the limits of human capabilities. 

“When I’m in the mountains, life is so incredibly simple” 

Review by Eddie on 15/02/2022

If you felt your palms getting sweaty watching the Oscar winning Free Solo then all I can say is get ready to relive that experience plus some as documentarians Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen give us a first hand view at the exploits of free climbing alpinist Marc-André Leclerc, a man who defies the odds of what you’d expect a mere human to do as he goes about his business of conquering some of the most infamous mountains in the world, without even a safety rope to call a friend. 

More rough around the edges and less focused than Free Solo was, documentary filmmakers and long term members of the climbing community Mortimer and Rosen may not be able to give The Alpinist the high quality sheen that was found in the examination of Alex Honnold’s adventures defying death but in many ways that suits the stories main protagonist just fine as Leclerc remains throughout this film unfazed about what he does and plans too do, often without fanfare and often without even letting Mortimer and Rosen know what his got in store for his next mission. 

An eccentric and unique character, Leclerc is a climber that is clearly more in-tune with the spiritual and individual side of what his profession entails rather than the sport or competitiveness and even on multiple occasions wonders why Mortimer or Rosen would bother following him around or be interested in documenting his exploits and there’s a refreshing aspect to The Alpinist in regards to being able to partake on this journey with an individual who is true to himself above everything else and is not at all interested in playing a part people would perhaps like to see him play. 

Capturing some incredible moments on camera (an ice wall climb in Canada is one of the most terrifying and wonderful things you’ll see on screen in recent memory), The Alpinist is also a feast for the eyes and senses with there likely to be multiple occasions throughout Mortimer and Rosen’s film where you must remind yourself that what you are seeing is indeed real, as Leclerc continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, mostly without a second thought of research or practice before he sets out to achieve what perhaps no one else would ever dream of accomplishing. 

At days end there’s nothing groundbreaking about what The Alpinist does or explores but with such a unique figure at its core and some truly unforgettable documentations of human feats that need to be seen to be believed, this is one of 2021’s most memorable documentaries. 

Final Say – 

It’s not quite as well put together or as focused as Free Solo but The Alpinist is a thrilling, eye-opening and even emotionally affecting examination of a man who pushes himself and the human experience to the very limits of what is to be thought possible. 

3 1/2 ice picks out of 5  

2 responses to “Film Review – The Alpinist (2021)

  1. How many of these free solo-ist people are out there?

    Jokes aside, I was absolutely nervous watching Free Solo but it was an amazing documentary and I willing to try this one out as well!

    • Free Solo was an insanely tense experience wasn’t it?

      This is a really solid doco, feels familiar but quite different at the same time.

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