PICK 20 Seconds of Joy: Yes, Parachute Jumping Is Dangerous

I could tell you, flippantly, that this extreme sports documentary about daredevil Norwegian parachutist Karina Hollekim is brought to you by Red Bull, since the logo is plastered all over her helmet, clothing, and chute. Cute, blonde, a fluent English speaker, she also makes her living as a photogenic pro skier. Yet she is no pin-up bimbo, and she never resorts to "adrenaline junkie" clichés while explaining why she leaps off cliffs. Brace your stomach as the camera follows her off bridges, into deep fjords, out of airplanes, off a sandstone tower in Mali...even skiing off a snowy ledge in the Dolomites. Implicit is that what she and others call "the exit," their leaping-off platform, could also be their final exit, a point that director Jens Hoffmann underlines rather more than necessary. (Yes, we can see it's a risky sport.) Hoffmann follows Hollekim for five years, delving into her somewhat fraught family life, but she seems remarkably well-adjusted. Friends and fellow parachutists weigh in on the sport and her normalcy back home in Oslo (where she sensibly drives a Volvo, wears her seatbelt, and doesn't smoke). After a half-hour, though, your palms grow sweaty as Hollekim hurls herself off yet another cliff, and you begin to worry where the film is headed. ("Where will it end?" she asks philosophically. "Maybe when I hit the ground.") No spoilers, of course. But if I were the teacher or parent of a teenager who snowboards, skis, or skateboards—or just make that a teenager who's a teenager—this would be a mandatory school field trip.

 
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