Review: ‘Super Frenchie’ skims the surface of adrenaline junkie

A long-haired outdoor athlete carries gear on his back.
Skier and BASE jumper Matthias Giraud in the documentary “Super Frenchie.”
(Erik Pütsep / Greenwich Entertainment)
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For an extreme sports documentary, “Super Frenchie,” tracking the increasingly dangerous exploits of gonzo skier/BASE jumper Matthias Giraud, can’t help but feel benignly pedestrian.

Like fellow adrenaline junkie Alex Honnold, whose untethered attempts to scale the formidable El Capitan were chronicled in the Oscar-winning “Free Solo,” Giraud’s white-knuckle pursuit, which takes him from Mt. Hood to the Matterhorn, doesn’t skimp on the anticipated wow factor.


Ultimately, he meets his Waterloo with an ill-fated jump off Pointe d’Areu near Mont Blanc, leaving him in a coma with shattered bones mere days before his wife is due to give birth to their first child.

But even as he heeds his miraculous recovery as a sign to quit while he’s ahead, one begins to suspect that his domestic reset as a doting Bend, Ore., dad will prove short-lived.

Although director Chase Ogden dutifully captures that nagging call of the wild, he misses a golden opportunity to more thoroughly investigate the formative stimuli that prompted the seemingly carefree Giraud (like others before him) to pursue his limit-pushing lifestyle in the first place.

It’s touched upon with references to his growing up in an oppressive family environment that dealt with depression and suicide, and an “overbearing” and “manipulative” mother who chillily weighs in with “I respect what he does, but it’s also something which is rather selfish.”

Despite the stern demeanor, Giraud’s French maman nevertheless raises a valid talking point — one which seemed deserving of a deeper dive.

‘Super Frenchie’

Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 17 minutes

Playing: Starts June 4, Landmark Nuart Theatre, Los Angeles; also on VOD