Super Frenchie


Self-expression or selfish pursuit?

(2020) Documentary (Greenwich) Matthias Giraud, Joann Giraud, Jesse Hall, Erik Roner, Julian Carr, J.T. Holmes, Josephina Giraud, Robert Giraud, Todd Davis, Denny Dragan, Chad Labass, Stefan Laude, Soren Giraud, Suzanne Montgomery. Directed by Chase Ogden

 

There are some among us who are driven to do things that, on the surface, seem foolhardy if not downright crazy. They jump out of airplanes with only a piece of cloth to keep them from being smashed into human jelly on the unforgiving ground below. They pit themselves against mountains, waves, and whatever else nature might throw at them. And among these, there are some who are driven to push the boundaries even further.

Matthias Giraud is one such. Born in France but currently residing in Oregon, he caught the skiing bug early on family vacations in the French Alps. But it wasn’t until he caught videos of Shane McConkey flying off the mountainsides with a parachute that he found something that truly spoke to him. McConkey became a friend and a mentor and Giraud became one of the best in the world at ski BASEing.

The garrulous Giraud describes the times when he is flying off the edge of a mountain, free of gravity, as the only times he’s truly happy. Driven by a childhood in which he grappled with depression and considered suicide (he talks about his mother Josephine being manipulative and overbearing), he pursued his passions with a vengeance that borders on addiction. But after meeting Joanne, an American woman who seems to understand him better than anyone, he married her and she eventually got pregnant.

Realizing that the presence of a child in his life would change things, Matthias wanted to check off a few of his bucket list items while he could, which included a skiBASE off of one of the peaks he grew up skiing on in France. It was there, three weeks before Joanne was due, that he launched hiself off the cliff and was promptly blown into the side of the mountain, and tumbled down in horrifying fashion.

He was lucky. He survived the fall, albeit with severe injuries. He had to relearn how to walk again, but he was at least home when his wife gave birth to their son Soren. But giving up his passion wasn’t even a question. He would get back to doing what he loved.

And therein lies the issue at the heart of Super Frenchie. It is discussed, but essentially we hear how Joanne understands that this need to skiBASE is part of who Matthias is, and as Matthias goes back to the mountain where he nearly lost his life, he writes a heartfelt letter to his son in case the mountain beats him again and he doesn’t come home. His mother puts the issue succinctly; “I support what he does, but it is a bit selfish.” And there’s the rub. Does the fulfillment of his need for the high that comes with risking his life outweigh his responsibilities to his wife and young son? It bears mentioning that his mentor, McConkey, died skiBASEing in Italy, leaving behind a wife and three-year-old daughter.

This is the central discussion that the film raises but Ogden mainly brushes it aside. I think that the movie would have benefitted from a discussion of how incredibly dangerous what Giraud does, and the human toll it has taken in terms of lives lost. The inventor of the wingsuit that Giraud wears died. The man who invented skiBASEing died. The man who invented BASE jumping also died. Giraud appears to define his manhood by the will to go after his dreams, but is the price worth it? I wonder if McConkey’s daughter thinks so.

The footage that we see of Giraud flying off of mountains is nothing short of spectacular, I’ll grant you that. But it makes me wonder about the generations of starry-eyed kids inspired to take up this dangerous sport to achieve the high that Matthias does, and what price they will ultimately pay.

REASONS TO SEE: Spectacular skiBASEing footage.
REASONS TO AVOID: One has to wonder about whether this is an expression of a massive ego.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some mild profanity and some disturbing images.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Giraud has made a name for himself as being the first to skiBASE off a number of mountains, including the Matterhorn and Mount Hood in Oregon.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now,Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Row8, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/29/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 63% positive reviews; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Free Solo
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Sweat

New Releases for the Week of June 4, 2021


THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

(New Line) Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugene Bondurant. Directed by Michael Chaves

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren take on one of their most difficult and wrenching cases yet; the possession of a young boy, leading to a historic case in which a suspect in a murder used demonic possession as a defense.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for terror, disturbing images and violence)

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally

(Vertical) Al Pacino, Meadow Williams, Carsten Norgaard, Marcus Rafinski. The story of Millard Gillars, an American woman in Germany who became infamous as Axis Sally, part of the propaganda arm of the Nazi war machine, and her subsequent trial for treason after the war.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: R (for a sexual assault)

The Dry

(IFC) Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell, John Polson. A federal agent investigates a decades-old cold case involving the death of a teenage girl in his drought-stricken hometown which may have a connection to his own family.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: R (for language throughout and violence)

Gully

(Vertical) Amber Heard, Charlie Plummer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Robin Givens. Three friends from a rough L.A. neighborhood go out on an all-night partying binge, but when their rampage ends, retribution begins.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Crime
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk, Universal Cinemark at CityWalk
Rating: R (for sexual content, a sexual assault, pervasive language, drug use and strong violence)

The Killing of Two Lovers

(NEON) Chris Coy, Clayne Crawford, Arri Graham, Bruce Graham. A man who struggles to keep his family together while he is separated from his wife. Though they have agreed to see other people during their separation, he struggles to come to terms with her new relationship.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement

(PTC International) Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, H.R., Howard Wuelfing. A documentary about the punk scene in Washington DC in the 80s and 90s which spawned some of the most influential music of its era.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Music Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Spirit Untamed

(DreamWorks Animation) Starring the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, McKenna Grace, Julianne Moore, Andre Braugher. A young girl’s life is changed forever when her family moves from the city to a frontier town, and she befriends a wild mustang she names Spirit.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for some adventure action)

Super Frenchie

(Greenwich) Matthias Girard, Julien Carr, Todd Davis, Eric Roner. Coming from humble beginnings, Matthias Girard weighs his status as one of the premiere BASE jumpers and skiers in the world with the needs of raising his young family.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Sports Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian
<Rating: NR

Undine

(IFC) Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz. A young historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development is dumped by her boyfriend, Undine is cursed to kill the man who betrayed her or return to the water from which she came.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Fantasy
Now Playing: Enzian
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

The Carnivores
City of Ali
Death in Texas
Edge of the World
Flashback
Good Funk (Tuesday)
Grace and Grit
Monuments
My Tender Matador
The Real Thing
Under the Stadium Lights
The Unhealer (Tuesday)

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

City of Ali
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Super Frenchie