Synopsis: From humble beginnings to top extreme athlete in his field, Matthias Giraud weighs his passion for skiing and BASE jumping against the grounding effects of raising a young family
Stars: Matthias Giraud
Director: Chase Ogden
Running Length: 77 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: The propulsive energy that fuels the first 25 minutes of Super Frenchie is enough to both inspire you to get out and enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory while simultaneously shame you for watching the movie from the air-conditioned safety of your own home. You won’t have to listen too close to hear echoes of the 2018 Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo throughout, what with the awe-inspiring visuals captured by the filmmakers and the tense moments generated as fearless BASE jumper Matthias Giraud soars through the air from often dizzying heights. Out of planes, off mountains, with skis, without skis, with clothes and without (hey, I said he was fearless), Giraud kept pushing the limits of his sport even knowing the inherent danger involved.
Director Chase Ogden has enough jaw-dropping material (with the assistance of Giraud’s valuable Go-Pro attached to his head) in the breathtaking opening of his film that it could easily have been a fine short film showcasing Giraud’s prowess as a risk taker. No joke, I could have turned off the film after the shot of Giraud in mid-air looking back at the alpine cliff he just careened off as the snow cascades down and been content. Yet the film is about more than just Giraud’s adventures in flight, it’s about him sticking his personal landing when he’s away from the rocky mountain highs and how an injury sustained on a perilous jump puts all of that into perspective.
It’s when this reality sets in that the film should be taking a dramatic turn for the better but instead winds up getting lost amongst the trees. Mostly, this is because it’s hard to rationalize away a free spirit that claims to value family above all else who turns around and continues to take risks that could leave the people he loves in jeopardy. At least, I find it hard to watch movies like this. As understanding as the spouse, children, friends, or other immediate family can be, there’s a whiff of selfishness on top of the already present bravado which has a souring affect on the subject as a whole. So as personable and camera-ready as Giraud is, it’s hard to remain engaged the more we see him choose one over the other.
This is especially strange because Giraud makes a point to highlight his upbringing and the strained relationship he had with his own family, which may come a shock to his mother who, as interviewed, seems to think they get a long great. If his growing up was hard because of absenteeism, how is what he’s doing any different? Ogden does circle back nicely within the trim running time to show Giraud triumphing over an obstacle which ends the movie on a high note, but did it come at a price that required more than physical therapy and time away from the slopes?
As a representation of one of the talented BASE jumpers out there, Super Frenchie is quite super in scope and scale of what Ogden can put on film. It even manages to impress on a smaller home viewing. It’s the more dramatic (yes, more than the actual jumps!) moments that hold it back from catching a high velocity of excitement.