Skywalkers: A Love Story Sundance Review: Death-Defying Stunts Make for a Life-Affirming Documentary

skywalkers: a love story
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Despite the title, Skywalkers: A Love Story has nothing to do with a galaxy far, far away — although, with the height to which its subjects climb, it might as well be a different universe. Skywalkers: A Love Story probably could have been a bit shorter than it is, but the incredible extreme sports footage and unexpectedly tender look at its subjects’ lives allow it to be a satisfying mix of death-defying and life-affirming.

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The documentary follows two daredevils in the extreme sport of “sky walking,” where they climb to the highest points on private buildings, as they set out on a dangerous (and romantic) adventure to climb the last super-skyscraper in the world. In many ways, the film earns comparisons to Fire of Love, another documentary that features a couple in a romantic relationship as they complete illogical and inhuman feats.

During the first thirty minutes of Skywalkers, we meet the two subjects individually as they enter the sport. The audience already has a preconception of these subjects based on their public personas, so the movie has the obstacle of overcoming these notions and proving that we should care about this story. The success is resounding.

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Skywalkers: A Love Story is breathtaking in more ways than one

skywalkers: a love story
A still from Skywalkers: A Love Story by Jeff Zimbalist, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The middle third of the film explores more of the eponymous romance between the duo. Audiences will either get really invested in the movie at this point or check out entirely. The “influencer romance” of it all can feel a bit artificial — perhaps even annoying — even when talking about the drama they deal with. It’s a plot thread clearly meant to humanize these people who are doing things that feel inhuman, but its results are mixed.

Also Read: Never Look Away Director and Legendary Actress Lucy Lawless Discusses Her First Documentary (INTERVIEW)

This is also where Skywalkers begins to explore some of the complexities of the protagonists’ situation, as we see the toll their escapades have on their relationship. However, some aspects of the story feel like they could have been explored in more depth, such as the discussion of Angela as a groundbreaker in a typically male-dominated sport.

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skywalkers: a love story
A still from Skywalkers: A Love Story by Jeff Zimbalist, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The final act will likely appeal most to general audiences, as it effectively turns into a real-life daredevil take on a caper. As the central couple tries to break into the building, avoid security, and perform the most extreme feat they have ever attempted, it feels like we are watching an Ocean’s movie. Although it isn’t exactly unpredictable, it does have all the excitement one could hope for.

Of course, there’s a lot of incredible cinematography in Skywalkers: A Love Story. Granted, most of it is drone footage considering the nature of the subjects’ profession — it wouldn’t be possible, much less safe, to capture their acts any other way — so those prone to motion sickness may find themselves irritated by some of the visuals.

People will be drawn to Skywalkers: A Love Story to see larger-than-life stunts, and it absolutely delivers on that front, but they will be surprised by a cinematic documentary that is equal parts exhilarating thriller and adorable romance. While it can all feel a little too polished and staged at times, it’s compelling and certainly very entertaining.

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Skywalkers: A Love Story screened at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, which runs January 18-28 in-person in Park City, UT and online from January 25-28.

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Rating: 8/10

8 out of 10

Also Read: A Real Pain Sundance Review: Jesse Eisenberg’s Second Film as Director Is an Incredibly Poignant and Deeply Funny

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Sean Boelman

Written by Sean Boelman

Articles Published: 174

Sean is a film critic, filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include music documentaries, heist movies, and experimental horror.