Jossi’s determination and openness make him an intriguing subject and his journey from slacklining between trees to highlining on a snowy mountain top in Chamonix after just a few days of training is never less than compelling. The Flying Frenchies are an eccentric troupe with some entertaining stories to tell but it’s the impressive cinematography which really stands out. The shots filmed at great heights are simply jaw-dropping and a sequence on the snowy, windy peaks of Chamonix is brilliantly cinematic, capturing the hair-raising risk and simultaneous tranquillity of highlining. At times the narrative feels messily constructed and random asides which delve into the pasts of Jossi and The Flying Frenchies feel aimlessly positioned. But the film’s thrilling, beautifully shot footage helps amend for this disorganised narrative.
The Free Man is insightfully narrated by Fraser who explores what drives these remarkable thrill-seekers. For many of them it’s the feeling of total freedom from their surroundings which they reach when conquering fear. Fraser questions whether reaching this kind of transcendence is worth the danger these individuals expose themselves to. While it doesn’t cover any particularly ground-breaking material, Jossi’s story provides a profound study of fear, freedom and the human condition.
While not for the faint-hearted, The Free Man offers a spectacularly shot and thought-provoking glimpse into the world and psychology of extreme sports.