OPENS DECEMBER 12, CERT 15, 106 MINS
In 1985, British mountaineers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates made a bold assault on the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They became the first (and so far only) climbers to conquer it, but their triumph turned to purgatory as they tried to get down again. After Simpson broke his leg, Yates tried to lower him down the mountain by rope. They’d almost made it when Simpson slithered over a precipice, forcing Yates to cut the rope to save himself. Fantastically, Simpson survived and crawled back to base. The film, based on Simpson’s book and directed by One Day in September’s Kevin Macdonald, imparts some sense of the soaring menace of the mountains, and does a decent job of depicting the action, given that it lacked the budget of a Hollywood thrill-frenzy like Vertical Limit. The real-life Simpson and Yates narrate in straight-to-camera close-up, lending an edge of docu-realism, though they never quite penetrate to the emotional core of the story. In particular, Yates’ decision to cut the rope isn’t fully explored. Simpson didn’t blame him, but parts of the climbing fraternity did.