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For those who were climbers in the 80s and 90s, Catherine Destivelle is a myth: a climbing competition winner who then moved onto higher ground and incredibly hard mountain climbs, culminating in solo ascents on the Eiger, the Dru, etc... Her face has stayed familiar but slowly faded away from climbing magazines in recent years. This movie is an invitation to climb with her.
It's a documentary, but it's not in the category of extreme sports documentaries. She simply takes 4 people: 2 old-timers who mentored her when she was a climbing teenager, a kid she taught climbing to who became a climbing instructor and one of her sisters out for some climbs. The climbs themselves are classics among the classics of Chamonix: 2 rock climbs and an ice one. Nothing extreme, but very scenic.
And all the charm of the movie lies there: its unassuming beauty. It shows the mountains in all their glory and also happy people climbing them. The dialogs are unscripted and often naive, but they brought quite a few laughs out of the public.
The images are astounding. No, better than that: I have no idea how it's been filmed. Some scenes are filmed a few meters away from the climbers, whom you hear talk perfectly between them, but then moves away and shows you the exposure. Helicopter ? I don't know: too close and too noisy. The sound is excellent, which is unusual for a french documentary. And the way the perspectives are shown will make you quake in your boots.
This is not a biography, although they show a few images of past ascents (and you can really tell how far we have moved in terms of image quality in barely 2 decades), just... an invitation to the mountains by an extraordinary woman. 'Magnifique!' Those outside France will be hard-pressed to see this in a movie-theater, but if you can catch it in some festival (Banff maybe?), the big-screen experience is absolutely worth it.
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