Film Review: National Geographic’s “Fly” Finds Love in an Elevated Place for Three Base Jumper Couples

What’s higher than El Capitan? After ascending to meteoric heights with Free Solo, National Geographic Documentary Films takes audiences on equally daring ascensions, each serving as a jumping-off point for base jumpers in Fly. Directed by husband-and-wife team Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, the film held its world premiere at SXSW. Fly tells the story of three couples bonded by their love of defying gravity, which makes for an unexpected life.

(Reel Peak Films)

(Reel Peak Films)

Jimmy and Marta, Espen and Amber, and Scotty and Julia. These are the three sky-crossed lovers whose passion for their partner is eclipsed only by their love of leaping off of cliffs, planes, and bridges with parachutes and wingsuits. They all live for the thrill of taking on bird-like qualities, with the very real understanding that physics has other plans.

While the joy and love for the sport of base jumping dominate the narrative of Fly, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau keep reminding the audience that death is part of the story. Each of the lead couples discusses those close to them who have died doing what they love, and they each acknowledge their own likely fate. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health estimates that one in sixty base jumpers dies from the sport, a high statistic that eventually rings true in this doc.

Fly includes sorrow, but it’s ultimately a film about following your dreams. The subjects of the film wouldn’t be content with a life free of wingsuits and parachutes, no matter how much each couple loves each other. Although as unconventional as their lives are, one of the groups – Scotty and Julia – begins to explore a more conventional path for newlyweds.

Joyfully rebellious, Fly often thrills viewers via helmet-mounted cameras and proximity flights. The visuals are stunning, and like Free Solo, Fly offers a cinematic experience worth seeing on the largest screen possible. It takes an unusual sport, one that few are willing to try, and makes it accessible to the masses while remaining pragmatic about the risks.

I give Fly 5 out of 5 synchronized acrobatics wingsuit moves.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).