Written by: Adam Vaughn | June 3rd, 2021
Super Frenchie (Chase Ogden, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Who wouldn’t enjoy a documentary about intense, real-life BASE jumping and skiing? Chase Ogden’s film comes with all the intensity and thrill of the sport, itself, along with splashes of humor and personality that come through in his protagonist and supporting characters. While Super Frenchie keeps its viewer interested in the journey of a veteran athlete through stunning visuals and witty interviews, a documentary-enthusiast will certainly notice the narrative repetition and worn-out story conventions holding the film back.
Super Frenchie tells the tale of skier and BASE jumper Matthias Giraud, whose love and fascination for daring and dangerous stunts go back as far as childhood. Every new expedition is an opportunity to try new stunts. But what happens when things don’t always go as planned during a jump? How much of a risk does Matthias take leaping thousands of feet in the air, and what happens if he doesn’t come back?
The film’s exploration of Giraud’s journey from young boy to professional athlete showcases his half-crazy interviews, which paint him as a fun, enthusiastic and very likeable person. Much of the B-roll and accompanying footage is absolutely gorgeous and shot from various vantage points that can create a compelling sense of acrophobia and intensity, especially when things go wrong! Additionally, the supporting interviews do a decent job reinforcing who Giraud is as a person and his passion for jumping.
All positive elements aside, Super Frenchie tends to get extremely repetitive, leading up to its climactic moment. Similar scenes of jumps lose their cinematic effect after being utilized one too many times, and the film tries to stretch its content for as long as possible, recycling the same ideas and concepts. Giraud’s fate towards the end of the film comes across as a little bit too foreshadowed, to the point of it being the obvious plot point to come.
While Super Frenchie may not exceed expectations in narrative form and cinematic structure, it is still a solid look into a fascinating lifestyle, and captures the fun and invigoration of intense skiing and BASE jumping. Compared to movies such as The Dawn Wall and Free Solo, it hardly stands out, but it certainly has its own personality that comes through in the protagonist, and certainly contains a tremendous amount of heart and passion. And for any follower equally as passionate about the sport, it’s without a doubt one for the cinematic books!