“Meru”: The absolute peak of mountain climbing documentaries

meru

“Meru” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 1:27, three stars out of four.

“Meru” opens with a shot of three of the world’s best mountain climbers, sleeping in a giant bag hanging off the side of a cliff thousands of feet in the air. You don’t see that on the cover of Outside magazine.

While “Meru” has jaw-dropping visuals to rival that of fictional mountain climbing films like the upcoming “Everest,” it has a lasting impact because of how it digs into the hard work of climbing, and the psyches of those willing to to devote their lives to. Co-directed by legendary climber Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, “Meru” brings us closer than any other documentary to understanding what it’s like to be up hanging out the side of a treacherous mountain. But the more I understood what it was like, the less I understood what drove people like Chin to go back up there again and again.

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